The latest flare-up in Congress over trade shows how urgent the relationship between lawmakers and President Donald Trump is.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal urged his Senate counterpart, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, to suspend the $24 billion export-tax credit currently included in the legislation.
Neal (D-Mass.) said he would put a hold on the trade bill if Hatch did not heed his concerns. Hatch shot back by noting that Neal is not a key member of the committee and that if he changes his mind, he can send the bill back to the Ways and Means panel.
A resolution would need the support of two-thirds of the whole Congress to clear.
Neither the White House nor Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has pushed back publicly, indicating that they are not concerned about the economic consequences if the bill is not passed.
But Democratic candidates will want to respond to a possible threat to the $26 billion in tariff revenue that U.S. exporters send abroad each year, which is already being reduced by Trump’s tariffs. And they may not have much choice but to bend to the will of the White House when it comes to the trade measures, because that’s how Capitol Hill and the administration work.
“What we should be discussing is why there is a concern about economic security of the country,” Holtz-Eakin said. “And that includes economic security for our trade partners.”