Legislative Update: Food, Firearms, Export Licensing, Nominations, Committee Members
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Food Imports. The Truth in Certification for Foreign Food Ingredients Act (H.R. 4749, introduced Jan. 9 by Rep. Soto, D-Fla., would establish a program to enhance the transparency and traceability of food products and ingredients that are exported to the U.S. to protect against mislabeling, adulteration, and fraud. As part of this program the Foreign Agricultural Service would provide foreign government officials, agricultural producers, and exporters of food products and ingredients to the U.S. with technical assistance and best practices to improve (a) transparency, traceability, and fraud prevention, including best practices for direct government inspection and certification of food products and ingredients in international trade, and (b) cooperation with private certification and verification bodies to ensure the accuracy and integrity of their food product and ingredient certification and verification.
Firearms Exports. The Prevent Crime and Terrorism Act (H.R. 4765, introduced Jan. 10 by Rep. Torres, D-Calif.) would block what Torres called a Trump administration plan to deregulate firearms exports. Specifically, this bill would prohibit the removal of the following items from categories I, II, or III of the U.S. Munitions List for purposes of transferring those items to or controlling them under any portion of the Commerce Control List in the Export Administration Regulations: (1) any item that as of Jan. 10, 2018, was designated as significant military equipment (e.g., firearms, ammunition, and grenade launchers); (2) components, parts, accessories, or attachments of such items; (3) flame throwers specifically designed or modified for military application; and (4) apparatus or devices for launching or delivering ordinance.
Export Licensing. A report has been filed on H.R. 2504 (introduced May 17, 2017, by Rep. Pingree, D-Maine), which would exempt from licensing requirements exporters of sea urchins and sea cucumbers designated as food for humans or animals or taken for recreational purposes. This bill would also require the Fish and Wildlife Service to amend regulations concerning transporting wildlife to clarify that those sea urchins and sea cucumbers are fishery products exempt from the export permission requirements under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
Committee Membership. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., who press reports indicate has a solid voting record against free trade agreements, is joining the Senate Finance Committee. Whitehouse will occupy the additional seat Democrats gained on the committee after several recent special elections narrowed the Republican majority in the Senate.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, announced that the following Republicans will serve on the Trade Subcommittee this year: Dave Reichert, chair (Wash.), Devin Nunes (Calif.), Erik Paulsen (Minn.), Mike Kelly (Pa.), Tom Reed (N.Y.), Kristi Noem (S.D), George Holding (N.C.), Tom Rice (S.C.), and Kenny Marchant (Texas). Brady also announced that Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Ill, has been recommended to serve on the full committee.
Trade Nominations. Senate Finance will hold a hearing Jan. 17 to consider the nominations of Dennis Shea and C.J. Mahoney to be deputy U.S. trade representatives. Shea would serve as USTR’s representative at the World Trade Organization while Mahoney would oversee efforts on investment, services, labor, environment, Africa, China, and the Western Hemisphere.