Iran – Sanctions Measure Advances. Last week, the Senate passed the Iran Sanctions Extension Act (H.R. 6297) by a vote of 99-0, sending the measure to President Obama’s desk. Members of Congress and Administration officials have said they do not believe renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) would violate terms of the nuclear agreement with Iran that went into effect early this year. A senior Administration official said, “While we do not think that an extension of ISA is necessary, we do not believe that a clean extension would be a violation of the JCPOA [Iran deal].” The White House has confirmed that President Obama is expected to sign the measure.
Trump Transition News. Last week, President-Elect Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Wilbur Ross as the Secretary of Commerce and Steven Mnuchin as the next Secretary of the Treasury. The President-Elect announced at a rally on Thursday night that he had selected Gen. James Mattis to serve as Secretary of Defense.
Taiwan – Trump’s Call. On Friday, President-Elect Trump spoke with the leader of Taiwan, a shift from the nearly 40-year-old “one-China” policy’s diplomatic protocol. Vice President-Elect Mike Pence said Sunday that the phone call was a “courtesy call” and should not necessarily be interpreted as a shift in U.S. policy.
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – Brady Talking to Trump Transition Team. House Ways & Means (W&M) Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told Inside U.S. Trade last week that he has engaged President-Elect Trump’s Transition Team in order to establish what he hopes will be a regular and ongoing dialogue on trade issues that would include advocating to President-Elect Trump that a trade agreement in the Asia-Pacific is crucial to growing the U.S. economy. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said on 1 December that he believes President-Elect Trump may eventually support TPP once he realizes the consequences of withdrawal, even if the United States begins with a bilateral trade agreement with Japan.
Representative Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) will serve as Ranking Member of the W&M Committee during the 115th Congress following Rep. Sander Levin’s (D-Michigan) unexpected move to step down from the leadership role last week. Representative Neal has reportedly said that U.S. trade policy must be revamped before Congress and the general public will be open to supporting any large trade deals.