U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington, DC. Getty Images/Alex Wong
U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers the State of the Union address in the chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives Jan. 30, 2018 in Washington, DC.

Trump urges unity and proposes major agenda items

Legislative Watch: Trump outlines vision for 2018 in State of the Union address; Republican Senators support NAFTA; WOTUS on hold for two years; Doud closer to confirmation.

President Trump delivered his first State of the Union address this week in which he presented his vision of the country for 2018. He touted his accomplishments especially with a growing economy, reducing regulations and the new tax bill. Trump says we are building a “Safe, strong, and proud America.” Trump called for unity in this highly partisan atmosphere and proposed a number of items for Congress to pass this year.

He addressed a number of issues that are important to the agricultural community. They include:

Trade — President Trump stated his direction for trade policy in the future. He says, “The era of economic surrender is over. America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs and our nation’s wealth. From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and to be reciprocal. We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones.”

Infrastructure — Trump calls for a bipartisan effort to address the nation’s need for an infrastructure plan. He is asking Congress to pass legislation for $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure spending which would partner with state and local governments and the private sector. He’s also asking for changes in regulations to streamline the approval process for infrastructure projects. Trump reminds the Congress, “We built the Empire State Building in just one year. Isn’t it a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?”

Immigration — He re-emphasizes his recent pledge to offer a path to citizenship for 1.8 million young immigrants as part of his four pillars for immigration reform. It also includes building a wall along the Mexican border and increasing border security, ending the visa lottery and ending chain migration.

Republican Senators support NAFTA
In a letter to President Trump organized by Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), 36 Republican Senators say trade with Mexico and Canada benefits the U.S. economy, and they outline ways the North American Free Trade Agreement could be improved.

The Senators say, “NAFTA supports 14 million jobs, representing thousands of jobs in each of the 50 states. Despite all of its benefits, however, we can do better and there are opportunities to improve the agreement. Modernizing NAFTA to increase market access, expand energy exports to maximize domestic energy production and including provisions on intellectual property and e-commerce will make this agreement even more beneficial to the United States.”

In the letter, the Senators reminded the president that Canada and Mexico buy approximately $500 billion of U.S. manufactured goods and are important countries for U.S. agricultural exports that have quadrupled under NAFTA.

WOTUS delayed two years
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers announced the administration would be delaying the implementation of the Waters of the U.S. rule for two years. This is to give the agencies time to develop a long-term solution and alternative.

EPA says, “The 2015 WOTUS rule developed by the Obama administration will not be applicable for the next two years, while we work through the process of providing long-term regulatory certainty across all 50 states about what waters are subject to federal regulation.”

EPA’s move to delay the WOTUS effective date was the result of the recent Supreme Court decision that the federal appeals court which put a hold on the WOTUS rule lacked jurisdiction to take such action.

The WOTUS rule as proposed by the Obama administration was strongly opposed by farmers and ranchers throughout the United States.

Doud takes step toward confirmation
Gregg Doud who has been nominated to be U.S. Trade Representative’s chief agricultural negotiator is one step closer to be confirmed. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) released his hold on Doud’s nomination after he received commitments that his concerns over the administration’s NAFTA seasonality proposal would be addressed and a solution would be found.

This week, 78 agricultural companies and organizations sent a letter to the U.S. Senate supporting Doud’s nomination. With the negotiations going on with NAFTA and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, it is critical to have Doud confirmed and at the table to represent agriculture at these negotiations.

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