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Legislative Update: MTB, Foreign Investment Review, Conflict Minerals, Nominations

Friday, November 10, 2017
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Miscellaneous Trade Bill. House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Ranking Member Richard Neal, D-Mass., and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced Nov. 9 the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Act of 2017 (H.R. 4318/S. 2108), which includes more than 1,800 petitions to suspend or reduce import duties as recommended by the International Trade Commission. The lawmakers said they hope to move swiftly on this legislation “to deliver much-needed tariff relief to American manufacturers this year.” 

Foreign Investment. The Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (S. 2098, introduced Nov. 8 by Sen. Cornyn, R-Texas, and H.R. 4311, introduced Nov. 8 by Rep. Pittenger, R-N.C.) seeks to modernize and strengthen the process by which the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States reviews acquisitions, mergers, and other foreign investments in the U.S. for national security risks. Specifically, these bills would (a) expand CFIUS jurisdiction to include certain joint ventures, minority position investments, and real estate transactions near military bases or other sensitive national security facilities, (b) update the definition of “critical technologies” to include emerging technologies that could be essential for maintaining the U.S. technological advantage over countries that pose threats, (c) allow foreign investors to submit “light filings” to CFIUS for certain types of transactions, (d) add new national security factors for CFIUS to consider in its analyses, and (e) authorize CFIUS to exempt certain otherwise covered transactions if all foreign investors are from a country that meets certain criteria, such as being a U.S. treaty ally and having a mutual investment security arrangement. 

Conflict Minerals. H.R. 4248 (introduced Nov. 3 by Rep. Huizenga, R-Mich.) would repeal the statutory provision requiring annual disclosures of whether conflict minerals originated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or an adjoining country and, if so, the measures taken to exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of such minerals and a description of any products manufactured or contracted to be manufactured that are not DRC conflict free.

Nominations. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation has ordered favorably reported the nomination of Dana Baiocco to be a commissioner of the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs concluded a hearing to examine the nomination of Kirstjen Nielsen to be secretary of homeland security.

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