New Legislation: MTB, Food Safety, Seafood Imports, Hazmat Transport, LNG Exports
MTB. The Duty Suspension Process Act (S. 260, introduced Jan. 27 by Sens. McCaskill, D-Mo., and Portman, R-Ohio) seeks to reform the miscellaneous trade bill process by allowing companies to submit their duty suspension proposals directly to the International Trade Commission and prohibiting any special consideration for tariff reductions requested by an elected official. Once the ITC reviews and accepts a proposal it would be sent to Congress for final approval. The legislation authorizes this process to be used for three rounds in 2015, 2018 and 2021.
Food Safety. The Safe Food Act (S. 287, introduced Jan. 28 by Sen. Durbin, D-Ill., and H.R. 609, introduced Jan. 28 by Rep. DeLauro, D-Conn.) would create a single, independent federal food safety agency, the Food Safety Administration. Noting that the “the fragmented nature of our food safety system has left us more vulnerable to the risk of foodborne illness,” Durbin said this legislation would transfer and consolidate food safety authorities for inspections, enforcement and labeling into the FSA, provide authority to require the recall of unsafe food, require risk assessments and preventive control plans to reduce adulteration, authorize enforcement actions to strengthen contaminant performance standards, improve foreign food import inspections, and require full food traceability to better identify sources of outbreaks.
Seafood Imports. The Imported Seafood Safety Standards Act (S. 190, introduced Jan. 20 by Sen. Vitter, R-La.) would require imports of seafood to meet U.S. standards for seafood manufacturing, processing and holding. Each foreign facility exporting seafood to the U.S. would be inspected at least once a year, and at least 20 percent of all imported seafood would be inspected and tested each year. Seafood could only be imported through ports of entry with staff trained to conduct the applicable testing and inspection.
Hazmat Transportation. The Developing Standards for Electronic Shipping Papers Act (H.R. 505, introduced Jan. 22 by Rep. Lipinski, D-Ill.) would direct the Department of Transportation to establish a Hazardous Materials Information Advisory Committee to develop voluntary standards and best practices for first responders and enforcement officials in the use of electronic shipping papers in the event of a hazardous material transportation incident. This bill would define “electronic shipping paper” as an electronic version of the physical shipping paper conveying the most current available hazard information and capable of being accessed instantaneously by emergency responders during such an incident.
LNG Exports. The Export American Natural Gas Act (H.R. 428, introduced Jan. 23 by Rep. Poe, R-Texas) would provide for the expedited approval of liquefied natural gas exports by the Department of Energy. Under this bill DOE would have 60 days to either approve or deny LNG export applications, and if the deadline is missed the application would automatically be approved.
Iran Sanctions. The Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act (S. 269, introduced Jan. 27 by Sen. Kirk, R-Ill., and passed Jan. 29 by the Senate Banking Committee) would impose additional economic sanctions against Iran if international negotiations fail to produce a final nuclear deal with Iran by the June 30 deadline. New sanctions would close loopholes in existing petroleum sanctions, enhance sanctions on Iran’s oil trade and financial transactions, and impose further sanctions on Iran’s senior government officials, family members and other individuals for weapons of mass destruction proliferation, terrorism sponsorship and other illicit activities as well as on Iran’s shipbuilding, automotive, construction, engineering and mining sectors.