Hundreds of agricultural organizations – including one that had stopped short of supporting a previous compromise – are pressing Senate leaders to make time for legislation that would address farm labor before adjourning for the year.
The Senate Finance Committee unanimously approved USDA adviser Doug McKalip to be the chief agricultural negotiator for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, sending the nomination to the full Senate for final approval.
President Joe Biden’s choice to be the next chief agricultural trade negotiator spent much of his nomination hearing arguing that he and the U.S. trade representative will be able to increase foreign market access for U.S. farm goods without negotiating new free trade agreements, but Republican senators weren't buying it.
The Senate is heading to the August recess and into the fall campaign season with little sign of a deal on farm labor reforms that would expand the H-2A visa program and provide a path to legal status for existing workers.
The Senate is beginning negotiations with the House over legislation aimed at boosting U.S. competitiveness abroad, even as there are new signs of division among senators over trade policy, including whether to fully reinstate an exclusion process on Section 301 tariffs on imports from China.
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai continued her defense of a Biden trade agenda that does not so far include traditional free trade agreements with other nations, but several senators strenuously pushed back, arguing that the U.S. is being left behind on the international stage as China pushes forward with new tariff-slashing pacts.
The Biden administration’s proposed Indo Pacific Economic Framework, an effort to strengthen economic ties and improve trading conditions with countries like India, the Philippines and Vietnam, got some praise during a Tuesday Senate hearing, but much of the time was spent discussing what it would not accomplish - new market access for U.S. ag.