Trade Cases

Leibowitz on Trade: Who's Now Who in Washington

Written by John Packard

Trade attorney and Steel Market Update contributor Lewis Leibowitz offers the following update on events in Washington:

This is an update on the trade-related committees in the new Congress.

The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee are the congressional bodies with jurisdiction over most international trade matters. 


The new chairman of the Finance Committee is Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.  He replaces Senator Orin Hatch of Utah, who retired at the end of the 115th Congress. 

There are five new members of the Finance Committee, which in the 116th Congress will have 28 members, 15 Republicans and 13 Democrats.  There were 14 Republicans and 13 Democrats on the committee in the last Congress. 

New members include:  Republicans Lankford (Oklahoma), Daines (Montana) and Young (Indiana); and Democrats Hassan (New Hampshire) and Cortez Masto (Nevada). Outgoing members from the 115th Congress include Republicans Hatch (Utah), who retired, and Heller (Nevada), who was defeated. Outgoing Democrats are Nelson (Florida) and McCaskill (Missouri), who were defeated.

House of Representatives

The new roster of the House Ways and Means Committee was released last week and, due to the new Democratic majority, there was quite a lot of turnover. The committee remains at 42 members, but the Democratic and Republican ratio was flipped—24 Democrats and 16 Republicans now are members. 

The new chairman of the full committee is Richard Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts. The ranking member is Kevin Brady, Republican of Texas, who chaired the committee in the last Congress. 

Ten new Democrats were named to Ways and Means, including: Gwen Moore (Wisconsin), Dan Kildee (Michigan), Brendan Boyle (Pennsylvania), Don Beyer (Virginia), Dwight Evans (Pennsylvania), Tom Suozzi (New York), Jimmy Panetta (California), Stephanie Murphy (Florida), Brad Schneider (Illinois) and Steven Horsford (Nevada). The new makeup of the Republican side, which will be sharply diminished, has not yet been announced. 

The Trade Subcommittee consisted of 15 members in the 115th Congress (9 Republicans and 6 Democrats). The new roster is still in formation; it appears that the ratios on the Subcommittee will reverse, with 9 Democrats and 6 Republicans on the panel.

The chairman of the Subcommittee is likely to be chosen in the coming week. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Oregon) and Bill Pascrell (New Jersey) are vying for the position. I hope I can give concrete information on the makeup of the Trade Subcommittee soon. 

The new blood on these committees could change the focus of the Subcommittee’s agenda. The turnover on the House side is huge. President Trump’s trade agenda will be questioned vigorously on the House side. A number of trade deals will doubtless be scrutinized. 

Key Dates in the Next Two Months

Feb. 17—statutory deadline for issuance of the Commerce report on national security and the automotive and auto parts industries (270 days after initiation).

March 2—deadline for concluding an agreement with China regarding trade practices. Failure to reach a deal could lead to new tariffs on China, and new retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports.

March 15 (approximate)—the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will commence a study into the product exclusion processes for the 232 (steel and aluminum) and 301 (China) tariffs. The study was announced in December.

Many other milestones are likely during the first quarter in the new Congress. It could be a very busy time. 

In the meantime, the partial government shutdown continues….

Lewis Leibowitz

The Law Office of Lewis E. Leibowitz
1400 16th Street, N.W.
Suite 350
Washington, D.C. 20036

Phone: (202) 776-1142
Fax: (202) 861-2924
Cell: (202) 250-1551

Latest in Trade Cases