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Senate Finance Committee Holds Hearing for USTR Nominee

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

(North American Meat Institute)

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on President Donald Trump's nomination of Robert Lighthizer to serve as the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR). During the hearing, Lighthizer stressed his support for deploying tools to hold China and other trading partners accountable for alleged trade violations. Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) underscored the importance of U.S. agricultural trade and urged Lighthizer, if confirmed, to embark on a robust trade policy to protect agricultural interests. Lighthizer said he would prioritize agriculture in trade negotiations.

While Lighthizer's confirmation is expected to garner support from senators representing both major political parties, Democrats have delayed the process by attempting to attach a miners' benefits bill to a waiver they say the nominee needs because of past work representing foreign governments. Democratic senators on the Finance Committee argue a waiver is necessary given that Lighthizer's past work representing foreign governments violates a 1990s ethics law, which would disqualify him from serving as USTR.

Meanwhile, the Meat Institute joined in signing a multi-association letter to the Senate urging the prompt confirmation of Lighthizer, calling it an "essential step" to ensure the U.S. can robustly engage in trade negotiation to further enhance U.S. economic growth and job creation.

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