December 5, 2015
The House and Senate are moving forward with holding a conference committee next week on the Customs Reauthorization bill. The Senate version of the bill contains certain currency provisions – none of which are China-specific – and which may be removed in the final measure. Formal action on the bill has been dormant since July, though staff have reportedly been negotiating over text over that time period.
The House approved of a motion to proceed to conference on December 1, and named conferees on December 2. During floor debate over a related measure, House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) laid out detailed arguments against including additional currency language beyond what was included in the reauthorization of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) in June.
The House conference committee members include Brady, Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-WI), and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), who have each opposed currency measures in the House. Rep. Linda Sanchez (D –CA) and Rep. Sandy Levin (D-MI) were also named as conferees. They will join Senate conferees named earlier this year, including Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
Prospects for certain currency provisions making their way into the final Customs bill appear dim. The House last night voted down a motion to instruct the conferees to retain certain currency measures in the final bill. Prior to that vote, a leading currency proponent in the House, Rep. Levin, said in a floor speech that he believes the currency provisions were “preordained” to be eliminated from the final text. Some congressional staff involved with the conference committee have agreed with this view in conversations with USCBC. USCBC will continue monitoring conference updates and share developments with members as they arise.