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Neal: GSP, MTB Will Get Figured Out by End of Year

House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., said that even though the politics around an end-of-year tax extender may change if Congress makes some renewable energy tax credits permanent, he believes it's still likely that the modernization act for the Generalized System of Preferences benefits program and Miscellaneous Tariff Bill can get done by the end of the year.

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"Those are priorities for me," he said in a hallway interview at the Capitol July 29, the last day before the House leaves for August recess. "And we feel very strongly about it. And there's going to be a lot of room here at the end of the session, I think, to get a lot of these things perfected, and passed."

Committee ranking member Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said the committee Republicans would like to include changes to the competitive needs limitation rules in a Generalized System of Preferences renewal, similar to what was proposed in a bipartisan bill (see 2112100058) introduced by Reps. Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., and Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla.

He said the Democrats and Republicans haven't finished their discussion on what the elements of negotiation will be, "but again, we're hopeful we have these discussions in August with staff ... but I still worry this may not get serious til November. That's what I worry about."

"It's going to be chaos in the lame duck session, especially if there's a change in majority, as expected, so you gotta prep all your food now ... and figure out what that final stuff is. As you know, there's some big gaps to bridge in trade, not necessarily on GSP and MTB."

Brady said during a hallway interview that the Senate trade title's language on Section 301 exclusions, which is supported by House Republicans, is an area where it's going to take work to find consensus. He said it's not true that it would tie the administration's hands -- which is what some opponents say -- because of the language that says the U.S. trade representative can inform Congress she will not reopen an exclusions process because it would undermine the action.

"There are a number of Democrats who have been asking the administration to do a real, transparent [Section] 301 exclusion process. My guess is, the answer lies somewhere with fine-tuning or changing the Senate bill somewhat to try to find that sweet spot."

When asked by International Trade Today if he'd give the Section 301 tariff exclusion language a 50/50 chance to get passed, he said he thought the chances were not that good.

But he said he hopes he's wrong about that. "We really need one, this economy's really changed so dramatically in the last two years. You've got to have a good process in place. Not one that's automatic for exclusions, and not one that automatically dismisses, rejects those applicants, but one that really looks at each one and says, 'This is good for America; this is not.'"

He said Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committee leaders can have conversations about whether they should retain language in the Senate bill that automatically grants exclusions if the agency takes too long to make a decision. "There's a way to do this," he said, repeating for emphasis: "There's a way to do this."