Coming Republican Support for Trade Deals Uncertain

When House Republican leaders officially announce who will chair committees for the 112th Congress next year, there will be great attention given to the make-up of the important tax and trade panel, the Ways and Means Committee.

When House Republican leaders officially announce who will chair committees for the 112th Congress next year, there will be great attention given to the make-up of the important tax and trade panel, the Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) is expected to be its new leader, and although he is from the same state as current Chairman Sander Levin (D-Mich.), Camp has a decidedly different philosophy.

Camp generally votes with conservatives, supports fully extending President George W. Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and was opposed to the 2010 health-care overhaul. Of note, he has been a supporter of free trade agreements and will likely push to get the stalled FTA with South Korea approved, but only after that deal is renegotiated to take into account the concerns of the U.S. automobile manufacturing sector.

Also on the trade front, incoming House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has called for completion of the three pending agreements, and pro-trade Republican Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas is expected to lead the Ways and Means subcommittee that oversees trade.

Over in the Senate, Rob Portman, a Republican and former U.S. trade representative, was elected to the Senate from Ohio even though trade had been a contentious issue in the state.  

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