H. R. 1603
To establish the Emergency Trade Deficit Commission, and for other
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 15, 2011
Mr. DEFAZIO (for himself, Mr. MICHAUD, Ms. SUTTON, Mr. JONES, Mr. CONYERS,
Mr. FILNER, Mr. GRIJALVA, and Ms. SLAUGHTER) introduced the following bill;
which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means
To establish the Emergency Trade Deficit Commission, and for other
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. FINDINGS.
Congress makes the following findings:
(1) The United States has run persistent trade deficits since 1978, and
many of the trade deficits since 2000 have been especially large.
(2) The United States trade deficit rose from $374,900,000,000 in 2009 to
$497,800,000,000 in 2010, an increase of 33 percent.
(3) Many of the trade deficits are structural--that is, with the same countries,
year after year. In 2010, the United States continued to have significant
merchandise trade deficits with the People's Republic of China ($273,100,000,000),
the European Union ($79,800,000,000), Japan ($59,800,000,000), and Mexico
($66,300,000,000), notwithstanding the overall decline in the United States
trade deficit. In fact, in 2010, China accounted for 42 percent of the United
States merchandise trade deficit.
(4) While the United States has one of the most open borders and economies
in the world, the United States faces significant tariff and nontariff trade
barriers with its trading partners.
SEC. 2. ESTABLISHMENT OF COMMISSION.
(a) Establishment- There is established a commission to be known as the Emergency
Trade Deficit Commission (in this Act referred to as the `Commission').
(b) Membership of Commission-
(1) COMPOSITION- The Commission shall be composed of 11 members, of whom--
(A) three persons shall be appointed by the President, of whom one shall
be appointed to represent labor interests, one shall be appointed to represent
small businesses, and one shall be appointed to represent manufacturing
(B) two persons shall be appointed by the President pro tempore of the
Senate upon the recommendation of the majority leader of the Senate, after
consultation with the Chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate;
(C) two persons shall be appointed by the President pro tempore of the
Senate upon the recommendation of the minority leader of the Senate, after
consultation with the ranking minority member of the Committee on Finance
of the Senate;
(D) two persons shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives,
after consultation with the Chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means
of the House of Representatives; and
(E) two persons shall be appointed by the minority leader of the House
of Representatives, after consultation with the ranking minority member
of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives.
(2) QUALIFICATIONS OF MEMBERS-
(A) PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTMENTS- Of the persons appointed under paragraph
(1)(A), not more than one may be an officer, employee, or paid consultant
of the executive branch.
(B) OTHER APPOINTMENTS- Persons appointed under subparagraph (B), (C),
(D), or (E) of paragraph (1) shall be persons who--
(i) have expertise in economics, international trade, manufacturing,
labor, environment, or business, or have other pertinent qualifications
or experience; and
(ii) are not officers or employees of the United States.
(C) OTHER CONSIDERATIONS- In appointing members of the Commission, every
effort shall be made to ensure that the members--
(i) are representative of a broad cross-section of economic and trade
perspectives within the United States; and
(ii) provide fresh insights in to identifying the causes and consequences
of the United States trade deficit and developing recommendations to
address structural trade imbalances.
(c) Period of Appointment; Vacancies-
(1) IN GENERAL- Members shall be appointed not later than 60 days after
the date of the enactment of this Act and the appointment shall be for the
life of the Commission.
(2) VACANCIES- Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers,
but shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment was made.
(d) Initial Meeting- Not later than 30 days after the date on which all members
of the Commission have been appointed, the Commission shall hold its first
(e) Meetings- The Commission shall meet at the call of the Chairperson.
(f) Chairperson and Vice Chairperson- The members of the Commission shall
elect a chairperson and vice chairperson from among the members of the Commission.
(g) Quorum- A majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a
quorum for the transaction of business.
(h) Voting- Each member of the Commission shall be entitled to one vote, which
shall be equal to the vote of every other member of the Commission.
SEC. 3. DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION.
(a) In General- The Commission shall be responsible for examining the nature,
causes, and consequences of the United States trade deficit and providing
recommendations on how to address and reduce structural trade imbalances,
including with respect to the United States merchandise trade deficit, in
order to promote sustainable economic growth that provides broad-based income
and employment gains.
(b) Causes of U.S. Trade Deficit- In examining the causes of the United States
trade deficit, the Commission shall, among other things--
(1) identify and assess the impact of macroeconomic factors, including currency
practices, foreign government purchases of United States assets, and savings
and investment rates, including savings rates of foreign state-owned enterprises,
on United States bilateral trade imbalances and global trade imbalances;
(2) with respect to countries with which the United States has significant,
persistent sectoral or bilateral trade deficits, assess with respect to
the magnitude and composition of such trade deficits--
(A) the impact of tariff and nontariff barriers maintained by such countries
and the lack of reciprocal market access as a result of such barriers;
(B) the impact of investment, offset, and technology transfer requirements
by such countries;
(C) any impact due to the failure of such countries to adhere to internationally
recognized labor standards, including the extent to which such failure
affects conditions of competition with the United States or the ability
of consumers in such countries to buy United States goods and services;
(D) any impact due to differences in levels of environmental protection
and enforcement of environmental laws between such countries and the United
States, including the extent to which such differences affect conditions
of competition with the United States;
(E) policies maintained by such countries that assist manufacturers in
such countries, including the impact of such policies on manufacturers
in the United States; and
(F) the impact of border tax adjustments by such countries;
(3) examine the impact of free trade agreements on the United States trade
(4) examine the impact of investment flows both into and out of the United
States on the trade deficit, including--
(A) the impact of United States outbound investment on the United States
trade deficit and on standards of living and production in the United
(B) the impact that the relocation of production facilities overseas has
on the United States trade deficit, including by reviewing major domestic
plant closures over an appropriate representative period to determine
how much production terminated from such closures was relocated offshore;
(C) the impact of foreign direct investment in the United States on the
United States trade deficit and on standards of living and production
in the United States; and
(D) the impact of United States bilateral investment treaties, including
bilateral investment treaties under negotiation, on the United States
(5) examine the role and impact of imports of oil and other energy products
on the United States trade deficit; and
(6) assess the extent to which United States foreign policy interests influence
United States economic and trade policies.
(c) Consequences of U.S. Trade Deficit- In examining the consequences of the
United States trade deficit, the Commission shall, among other things--
(1) identify and, to the extent practicable, quantify the impact of the
trade deficit on the overall domestic economy, and, with respect to different
sectors of the economy, on manufacturing capacity, on the number and quality
of jobs, on wages, and on health, safety, and environmental standards;
(2) assess the effects the trade deficits in the areas of manufacturing
and technology have on defense production and innovation capabilities of
the United States; and
(3) assess the impact of significant, persistent trade deficits, including
sectoral and bilateral trade deficits, on United States economic growth.
(d) Recommendations- In making recommendations, the Commission shall, among
(1) identify specific strategies for achieving improved trade balances with
those countries with which the United States has significant, persistent
sectoral or bilateral trade deficits;
(2) identify United States trade policy tools including enforcement mechanisms
that can be more effectively used to address the underlying causes of structural
(3) identify domestic and trade policies that can enhance the competitiveness
of United States manufacturers domestically and globally, including those
policies of the United States and other countries that have been successful
in promoting competitiveness;
(4) address ways to improve the coordination and accountability of Federal
departments and agencies relating to trade; and
(5) examine ways to improve the adequacy of the collection and reporting
of trade data, including identifying and developing additional databases
and economic measurements that may be needed to properly assess the causes
and consequences of the United States trade deficit.
SEC. 4. REPORT.
(a) Report- Not later than 16 months after the date of the enactment of this
Act, the Commission shall submit to the President and the Committee on Ways
and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Finance of
the Senate a report that contains--
(1) the findings and conclusions of the Commission described in section
(2) any recommendations for administrative and legislative actions as the
Commission considers necessary.
(b) Separate Views- Any member of the Commission may submit additional findings
and recommendations as part of the report.
SEC. 5. POWERS OF COMMISSION.
(a) Hearings- The Commission may hold such hearings, sit and act at such times
and places, take such testimony, and receive such evidence as the Commission
considers advisable to carry out this Act. The Commission shall hold at least
seven public hearings, one or more in Washington, DC, and four in different
regions of the United States.
(b) Information From Federal Agencies- The Commission may secure directly
from any Federal department or agency such information as the Commission considers
necessary to carry out this Act. Upon request of the Chairperson of the Commission,
the head of such department or agency shall furnish such information to the
(c) Postal Services- The Commission may use the United States mails in the
same manner and under the same conditions as other Federal departments and
SEC. 6. COMMISSION PERSONNEL MATTERS.
(a) Compensation of Members- Each member of the Commission who is not an officer
or employee of the Federal Government shall be compensated at a rate equal
to the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay prescribed for level
IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States
Code, for each day (including travel time) during which such member is engaged
in the performance of the duties of the Commission. All members of the Commission
who are officers or employees of the United States shall serve without compensation
in addition to that received for their services as officers or employees of
the United States.
(b) Travel Expenses- The members of the Commission shall be allowed travel
expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, at rates authorized for
employees of agencies under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United
States Code, while away from their homes or regular places of business in
the performance of duties of the Commission.
(1) IN GENERAL- The Chairperson of the Commission may, without regard to
the civil service laws and regulations, appoint and terminate an executive
director and such other additional personnel as may be necessary to enable
the Commission to perform its duties. The employment of an executive director
shall be subject to confirmation by the Commission.
(2) COMPENSATION- The Chairperson of the Commission may fix the compensation
of the executive director and other personnel without regard to the provisions
of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of title 5, United States
Code, relating to classification of positions and General Schedule pay rates,
except that the rate of pay for the executive director and other personnel
may not exceed the rate payable for level V of the Executive Schedule under
section 5316 of such title.
(d) Detail of Government Employees- Any Federal Government employee may be
detailed to the Commission without reimbursement, and such detail shall be
without interruption or loss of civil service status or privilege.
(e) Procurement of Temporary and Intermittent Services- The Chairperson of
the Commission may procure temporary and intermittent services under section
3109(b) of title 5, United States Code, at rates for individuals which do
not exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay prescribed
for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of such title.
SEC. 7. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS; GAO AUDIT.
(a) In General- There are authorized to be appropriated $2,000,000 to the
Commission to carry out this Act.
(b) GAO Audit- Not later than 6 months after the date on which the Commission
terminates, the Comptroller General of the United States shall complete an
audit of the financial books and records of the Commission and shall submit
a report on the audit to the President and the Congress.
SEC. 8. TERMINATION OF COMMISSION.
The Commission shall terminate 30 days after the date on which the Commission
submits its report under section 4(a).
SEC. 9. MORATORIUM ON FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS.
The President shall not submit to the Congress any free trade agreement, or
any legislation implementing a free trade agreement, until the report of the
Commission has been delivered to the Congress and the President under section