Legislative Update: Enforcement, Port Security, Cuba, Natural Gas, Freight Transport
Trade Enforcement. The Trade Enforcement and Trade Deficit Reduction Act (H.R. 2734, introduced May 25 by Rep. Slaughter, D-N.Y.) would direct the Department of Commerce to withdraw trade concessions like tariff reductions if a trade partner does not live up to its obligations under a free trade agreement or adds new tariff or non-tariff trade barriers. It would also require the U.S. to halt all imports from countries with which it runs a trade deficit that totals twice the value of imports as U.S. exports for six consecutive months. Trading would resume when the trade deficit becomes more balanced or the president signals an intent to renegotiate the trade agreement with that country. U.S. companies could apply for a one-year wavier to allow products to be imported if they are not available from other sources.
Port Security. The Maritime Security Coordination Improvement Act (H.R. 2831, introduced June 8 by Rep. Rutherford, R-Fla.) aims to improve the port and maritime security functions of the Department of Homeland Security. This bill includes provisions on supply chain security, the Container Security Initiative, cyber security at ports, and recognition of other countries’ trusted shipper programs.
Cuba. The U.S.-Cuba Normalization Act (H.R. 2966, introduced June 20 by Rep. Rush, D-Ill.) would lift the trade embargo on Cuba and extend permanent normal trade relations status to products of that country.
Natural Gas. The License Natural Gas Now Act (S. 1415, introduced June 22 by Sen. Cassidy, R-La.) would terminate restrictions on the importation and exportation of natural gas and guarantee the acceptance without delay of export volume applications to the Department of Energy for natural gas imports and exports. The bill would also allow the president to limit such imports and exports during emergencies or disasters as well as exchanges with particular foreign nations.
Freight Transportation. The National Multimodal and Sustainable Freight Infrastructure Act (H.R. 3001, introduced June 22 by Rep. Lowenthal, D-Calif.) would establish a trust fund, funded by a national one percent waybill fee on the transportation cost of goods, that would raise about $8 billion a year for freight-related infrastructure projects across the country, with a focus on multimodal projects and projects that rebuild aging infrastructure while relieving bottlenecks in the freight transportation system.