tv U.S. Senate U.S. Senate CSPAN May 22, 2019 5:29pm-7:14pm EDT
the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? on this vote, the yeas are 5, the nays are 4 p. the 3. the nomination is confirmed. the clerk: nomination, kenneth d. bell of north carolina to be united states district judge for the western district of north carolina. the presiding officer: question occurs on the nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll.
mr. portman: mr. president. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. portman: mr. president, i'm here on the floor today to talk about international trade, a very complex issue but also a really important issue to our country. our goal with trade should be pretty simple. it's to level the playing field for america's workers, america's farmers, america's businesses. one, we have got to be sure they aren't hurt by unfair imports coming into our country. so that's really a fairness issue and a trade enforcement issue. but second, wee should expand or exports. opening up more foreign markets to our products is great for america. that's the balance. as a trade lawyer and as the u.s. trade representative in the george w. bush administration and as a member of the finance committee which has jurisdiction over these issues, i've worked on the trade matters quite a bit, and it's really important to my home state. ohio has products that are manufactured by workers and
crops grown by our farmers that are shipped all aro the in ohio, one of every three acres is now planted for export. so our farmers are dependent on trade. and 25% of our factory workers, manufacturing workers have their jobs because of exports. 25% is a big part of our manufacturing economy. and these jobs aren't just good for ohio's economy. they're great for the people that have them. trade jobs pay on average 16% more than other jobs, and they have better benefits. so we want more of these jobs. and with 95% of the world's population living outside of our country, we want to sell more of our stuff to the rest of the world to continue to grow and maximize the potential of our economy. so in my state and a lot of others, manufacturing and ag jobs that are the bedrock of our economy depend on balanced trade. that goes for our trading partners around the world, but particularly for our two biggest neighbors -- mexico and canada.
they are by far ohio's biggest trading partners. since 1994, we've linked our economy to mexico and canada in the form of the north american free trade agreement, or nafta. in 2018, ohio shipped 39% of our exports to canada, more than twice the national average. along with our trade with mexico, this accounted for $20 billion in trade, and in all, trade with mexico and canada now supports 450,000 jobs in ohio. so it's important. we all know the existing agreement, again called nafta has to be updated. it is 60 years old. it needs to be improved. we need to be sure we are doing a better job of leveling the playing field that we talked about and reflecting the nature of the 21st century economy. back when nafta was negotiated there was no digital economy. we have to have rules for the digital economy. also as an example there were no
biologics, so we have no protections in the nafta agreement for biological pharmaceuticals. but it's more than that. labor standards, environmental standards that have been in all the more recent trade agreements need to be incorporated into the nafta agreement. so there are lots of reasons for us to update the north american free trade agreement and to improve it. although no trarade agreent is perfect, the new u.s. m.c.a. does those things. and, by the way, according to a recent study by the independent national trade commission, the new u.s.-m.c.a., is estimated to raise wages and add 176,000 jobs to the u.s. economy. so that's good. i support this u.s.-canada agreement. last week president trump and his administration took a major step towardd realizing usmca by
lifting the 262 tariffs on steel coming from mexico an canada. this i really good news. it is something that i advocated as have others in order to pass the usmca here but also to be sure that canada and mexico could ratify the usmca. it ends the retaliation by mexico and canada on made in ohio exports to our southern and northern neighbors. it also, by the way, protects against import surges and transshipments with regard to steel and aluminum, we worry about traransshipments from chia coming into canada or mexico and being sneaked into the united states. you don't want that. at protection is in there as well. i think this is a good agreement. tariffs, especially on our allies, o ought to be somethinge tried to -- try to avoid, use tactually and sparing thri.
there's been talk about the use of the section 232 tariffs by the administration not just on steel and aluminum, but also with regard to automobiles and auto parts. 232, the law that this would be done under is an exception to the trade laws. the trade laws say if youou unfairly trade with us, if you subsidize your pducts overseas and sum p -- dump them and sell below cost, that is illegal and we get to retaliate. we have laws that say if there is an import surge that domestic industries are substantially harmed by that that's a time for us to step up. but our other trade laws require one of those two things, finding of injury to al u.s. industry or some kind of unfair trade. under section 232, which is an exception to that, you don't have to do that. you -- you can block imports by saying it is a national security issue.
it's a pretty powerful thing that the executive branch has but it has been used very infrequently and that is how congress intended it. congress intended it to be used for true national security purposes. the a agency in charge is the commerce department. a recent commerce department investigation concluded that imported automobiles under the 232 criteria would be a national security threat. i think that's not accurate. i think that minivans from canada, as an example, aren't a national security threat to us it it may be they are unfairly traded. we should p en -- maybe we should enforce our trade laws, go after them. but to use this tool in that sort of way i think is -- is not appropriate. by the way, that's why over the past 50 years since this has been in effect, the tool's only been used a few times, 232, it has never been used in the last
33 years. one president tried to use, george w. bush, for whom i worked and his colorado mers department said that is not a security issue and so he used another trade provision that showed that you show material injury to a domestic injure. i think it is important to have a tool. i think it is good to have in the toolbox but we have to be judicious about it and not misuse it. one reason to be careful if you are to imposeariffs on cars and automobiles as the commerce department has said you could do, it would really cost u.s. consumers and businesses. first, u.s. cars would cost about $2,000 more on average, and that's a conservative estimate i'm told. we don't want that. second, if you put the 232 tariffs on cars and auto parts with no fairness rationale, the retaliatory y efforts on our exports would be swift and
painful. it finally, if you misuse this 232, i think you risk losing it all together. the world trade organization might not have too much influence these days, but they do have the ability to say whether something is legal or not under international trade rules, they have an exception for the national security waivers. so i think we have to be careful on how we use it. president trump and his administration made a decision over the last several days that i applaud them for. they decided not to move forward on these 232 tariffs against auto parts and be automobiles. they decided to put it off for six months. i commend them for that. again, i would hope that we would never go there, but i think it's really important that we put that off for six months that we can, not just get the u.s.-canada-mexico agreement accomplished, but that we can also focus on other things, and specifically our issues with
china. i recently introduced a bipartisan bill on section 232, by the way, it's commonsense approach that says let's be sure we're going to the original intent of 232, that we're not misusing it. it's really simple. it says that instead of having the department of commerce make the decision, it should be the department of defense. the department of defense has the expertise to determine if something is a national security issue or not. by the way, with regard to the recent decisions on the 232 tariffs, the department of defense did not agree with the commerce department and did not think it was a security concern and said that specifically with steel and aluminum for exam.m. i think the men and women who are hired to protect our country should decide if it's a national security threat or not. second, our legislation increases congress's oversight here. it allows for congress to have an expandedole to provide a legislative path for congress to disapprove one of these 232 tariff decisions if we think it's the wrong way to go.
i think that's important to bring some of the power back to congress where it resides in the constitution. i hope my colleagues both sides of the aisle will help us with this commonsense legislation and avoid the use of 232 on the issues of auto and auto parts, in the meantime the administration made the right choice by it delaying the imposition of the 232 tariffs on long-time allies with regard to autos and auto parts. as i said earlier, balanced trade is about enforcement, being sure it is fair in terms of what imports are coming into this country for our workers, our farmers, our service providers. it's also about disports. and, you know what, because of that goal of balanced trade, i support what the trump administration is doing vis-a-vis china. unfortunately, when you look at what's happened in our relationship with china, we have more and more reasons to say that china is not playing by the rules. china needs to make structural changes in our trade relationship in order for us to have that level playing field we
talked about earlier. this u.s.-china economic relationship right now lacks equity, balance, fairness, it also lacks durability, the big trade deficits we have and the structural problems can't last. to put it simply, china's not playing by the rules. first, they unfairly subsidized their exports. we talked about this earlier, but it's not fair for another country to say we're going to use government money to subsidize what we send to the united states and have our workers and farmers have to compete with that. subsidies are unfair under international rules and under our trade laws. china does it in a number of ways. one, they have a bunch of state-owned enterprises and they've actually expanded their state-owned enterprises at a time when it looked like china was going the other way where they would have a more economy. but they also committed massive
subsidies to their most massive technologies and companies. second, china does not grant reciprocal advancement and transfer of intellectual property theft from u.s. companies. often that intellectual property or technology goes to a china company. to be clear, as a condition of doing business in the huge chinese market, u.s. companies regularly have to hand over their intellectual property, their technology, their innovationsike manufacturing processes, let's say. like blueprints or designs, trade secrets and other things of value. then typically a chinese competitor uses these advantages to compete back against u.s. companies. again, that's justt not acceptable. i would encourage you to check out the administration's section 301 report on ustr.gov and you will see the section 301 issues that are laid out in that report.
and it's pretty clear if you want to learn more about it. let me give you an example of how this technology transfer works. if a u.s. automaker wants to make cars in china and a lot of them wanted to and have made them there, china has joint ventures that foster's china's own domestic auto industry. in a number of businesses china requires a 51% chinese partner in a joint venture and that's one way the technology transfer happens. at first china's foreign investmentnt catalogncouraged, that was the word, foreign auto investment. i was in china back in 1984, i believe it was, maybe 1985, at a jeep plant and i watched the first american vehiclings go off -- vehicles go off the production line in china. i was there. i saw it. it was very positive. people were thinking, this is interesting, we're going to be doing business with china, those jeeps can then be sold in china and other parts of asia.
it wasn't to compete with the u.s. market. and this was good for jeep and good for china. that was at a time when they encouraging foreign auto investment. but as china learned about auto manufacturing from thesestds t got knowledge of how to manufacture automobiles themes -- themselves, the foreign catalog changed its position from encouraged to permitted and then more recently in 2015 to restricted. so, again, this is an evolution where initially bring it in, joint venture partner, we'll get the technology, it goes from encouraged to permitted and then finally to restricted now that china has that technology. that's kind of leap frogging us, isn't it. and, again, that doesn't seem fair and it is not reciprocal because we don't do the same thing in this country. this problem of fueling chinese innovation with the hard work of u.s. companies is even more pronounced in the elect trick
vehicle center. china tries to advance the production of products in china. we would love to sell american electric cars in china but they prevent this with a combination of things, tariffs, which are relatively high, subsidies or elect -- elect trickly produced cars and china must sell a portion of their vehicles in china or face penalties. again, we don't do that. it's clear from this experience that china's unfair trade practices is at odds with the current rules-based multilateral trading system. i will continue to support the administration's effort to increase pressure on china in order to reach a strong but fair and enforceable agreement. i would argue this is in china's interest as well as our interest. they are now a mature trading partner. they are now the greatest exporter in the world. they have an economy that is growing, again, more
sophisticated, more technology. they should want to protect their o own intellectual proper. they should want to engage with us and other countries around the world on a more fair basis. while i urge the united states to hang tough, the administration should work quickly to try to bring the negotiations to a close. because a combination of the retaliatory tariffs on the u.s. exports and tariffs on chinese consumer products here in america is causing pain for our farmers, for our workers, for our service providers. so it would be good to bring these negotiations to a conclusion. we were very close to doing that only a few weeks ago, and the reports back were that china had changed its view on some of the concessions they were willing to make. let's get backk to the table and let's make a fair, enforceable agreement. as part of increasing pressure on china, as tariffs going to do, the european union, japan,
korea, australia, vietnam and other countries in southeast asia all share our concerns that the administration has raised with regard to china. they are experiencing the same thing. leveraging our allies helps put pressure on china by demonstrating the broad consensus that exists among those who believe china often acts contrary to our rules-based multilateral trading system. i laiaid the groundwork for trae organization complaints against china by working with with our allies. key to vict ray was the ability to rally, to come up with a posse, the e.u., mexico, japan, other countries to show china that the world was watching and cared. the administration's work with the e.u. and japan on reform and subsidies right now is a good step in the right direction. it shows how it's possible we can rely on our friends and, therefore, gain more leverage. it's why it's important we don't adopt policies that undermine our ability to work with allies
also. it's another reason i was glad to see the administration delay any tariffs pursuant to this 232 we talked about on automobiles and auto parks because a lot of those 232 tariffs would have been imposed on our allies. not only do auto and auto parts from our allies more than anywhere else in the world not threaten our national security but it also invites are he taliation on u.s. export -- invites retaliation on u.s. exports and poisons this goodwill we need with historic allies as we pursue a resolution of our differences with china. let me end where we started about balanced trade. all-america needs is a level playing field. we can compete. we have the ability to innovate. we have the ability to be flexible. we havave a lot of advantages in this country, but we do need that level playing field. all we ask for is fair and reciprocal treatment from our trading partners. the sweet spot for america is that balanced approach. again, opening up new markets for u.s. products while
insisting on trade enforcement so workers can compete. as we've talked about today, right now we've got a lot of balls in the air as it relates to trade. it's caused some uncertainty among our trading partners, with american businesses, workers and farmers that rely on trade. i get that. let's prioritize passing u.s. m.c.a. with canada and mexico. that will provide some certainty. let's support the administration in bringing home a strong agreement with china. that will provide a lot of certainty. and let't's not impose new sectn 232 tariffs that will also provide some certainty and predictability. with that predictability and certainty further leveling the playing field, we can help american farmers, american workers, american businesses, and our economy. thank you, mr. president. i yield back my time.
the presiding officer: the senator from north dakota. mr. cramer: i ask unanimous consent to suspend the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. cramer: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that when the senate completes its business today, it recess until 9:30 a.m., thursday, may 23. further, that following the prayer and pledge, the time for the two leaders be reserved for
their use later in the day. the presiding officer: without objection. under the previous order, the under the previous order, the the complete in congress is now available. lots of details about the house and senate for the current session of congress. information about every senator and representative, plus
information about congressional committees. state governors and the cabinet. the 2019 congressional directory is a handy spiral-bound guide. order your copy from c-span online store, for $18.95. >> sunday night on q&a, what our october 2018 interview at yale unersity. her book, the field of blood. violence and commerce in the civil war. >> scores of congressman, nashville. in and of itself, it's genetic. it's a massive encounter. what was really interesting to me, people at the time look at it, what they saw was a group of northerners and southerners armed, roaring at each other in the house and several of them said, this doesn't look like a normal congressional site. this looks like norfolk and south.