Nine senators have asked President Trump to end the federal civilian hiring freeze he announced Jan. 23 as it applies to employees responsible for trade enforcement. The lawmakers argued that the freeze runs contrary to Trump’s campaign vow to make enforcement the center of his trade reform plan, particularly given the additional enforcement responsibilities conferred on federal agencies by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.
Specific initiatives the senators warned could be negatively affected by the hiring freeze include the following.
- the Department of Commerce’s work to combat dumping of steel, softwood lumber, and other commodities
- U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s identification and investigation of companies that are failing to pay import duties, importing counterfeit merchandise, or otherwise violating U.S. trade laws
- the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s investigation and prosecution of trade barriers in China and other countries that fail to comply with their international obligations
- the Department of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs’ identification of cases in which foreign governments are violating labor commitments or foreign companies are producing goods using child or forced labor
- the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s investigation of illegal trafficking in endangered species and stolen timber
- the Department of Justice’s defense of U.S. trade remedy actions and prosecution of companies that violate U.S. trade laws
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