Text: H.R.548 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (01/18/2007)

 
[Congressional Bills 110th Congress]
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[H.R. 548 Introduced in House (IH)]







110th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 548

               To establish a Congressional Trade Office.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                            January 18, 2007

Mr. DeFazio (for himself, Mr. Michaud, Mr. Allen, Ms. Lee, Ms. Jackson-
  Lee of Texas, Ms. Slaughter, Ms. Kaptur, Mr. Welch of Vermont, Mr. 
Costello, Ms. Sutton, Mr. Hinchey, Mr. Hall of New York, Mr. Lipinski, 
Mr. Melancon, Mr. Wu, and Mrs. Tauscher) introduced the following bill; 
         which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
               To establish a Congressional Trade Office.

    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) Congress has responsibility under the Constitution for 
        international commerce.
            (2) Congressional oversight of trade policy has often been 
        hampered by a lack of resources.
            (3) The United States has entered into numerous trade 
        agreements with foreign trading partners, including bilateral, 
        regional, and multilateral agreements.
            (4) Foreign country performance under certain agreements 
        has been less than contemplated, and in some cases rises to the 
        level of noncompliance.
            (5) The credibility of, and support for, the United States 
        Government's trade policy is, to a significant extent, a 
        function of the belief that trade agreements made are trade 
        agreements enforced.
            (6) The accession of the People's Republic of China to the 
        World Trade Organization will create unprecedented challenges 
        and it is important to the world trading system that China 
        comply with the numerous and significant commitments China 
        makes as part of the accession process. Congress must play a 
        key role in ensuring full and continuous monitoring of the 
        People's Republic of China's compliance with its commitments.

SEC. 2. ESTABLISHMENT OF OFFICE.

    (a) In General.--There is established an office in Congress to be 
known as the Congressional Trade Office (in this Act referred to as the 
``Office'').
    (b) Purposes.--The purposes of the Office are as follows:
            (1) To reassert the constitutional responsibility of 
        Congress with respect to international trade.
            (2) To provide Congress with additional independent, 
        nonpartisan, neutral trade expertise.
            (3) To assist Congress in providing more effective and 
        active oversight of trade policy.
            (4) To assist Congress in providing to the executive branch 
        more effective direction on trade policy.
            (5) To provide Congress with long-term, institutional 
        memory on trade issues.
            (6) To provide Congress with more analytical capability on 
        trade issues.
            (7) To advise relevant committees on the impact of trade 
        negotiations, including past, ongoing, and future negotiations, 
        with respect to the areas of jurisdiction of the respective 
        committees.
    (c) Functions.--The functions of the Office are as follows:
            (1) Assistance to congress.--To provide the appropriate 
        committees of Congress or joint committees of Congress 
        information which will assist the committees in the discharge 
        of the matters within their jurisdiction.
            (2) Monitor compliance.--To monitor compliance with major 
        bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade agreements by--
                    (A) consulting with the affected industries and 
                interested parties;
                    (B) analyzing the success of those agreements based 
                on the effect of the agreements on specific industries 
                and the economy;
                    (C) recommending actions, including legislative 
                action, necessary to ensure that foreign countries that 
                have made commitments through those agreements with the 
                United States fully abide by their commitments;
                    (D) annually assessing the extent to which those 
                agreements comply with environmental goals; and
                    (E) annually assessing the extent to which those 
                agreements comply with labor goals.
            (3) Analyses.--
                    (A) In general.--To perform the following analyses:
                            (i) By not later than 60 days after the 
                        date the national trade policy agenda is 
                        delivered to Congress each year under section 
                        163(a) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 
                        2213(a)), to analyze that agenda, including 
                        alternative goals, strategies, and tactics, as 
                        appropriate.
                            (ii) By not later than 60 days after the 
                        date the National Trade Estimate report is 
                        delivered to Congress each year under section 
                        181(b) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 
                        2241(b)), to analyze the major outstanding 
                        trade barriers based on cost to the United 
                        States economy.
                            (iii) To analyze the overall trade balance 
                        of the United States and the trade balances of 
                        the United States with the major trading 
                        partners of the United States.
                    (B) Analyses requested by committee.--To perform 
                analyses relating to trade as directed by any committee 
                which will assist the committee in the discharge of the 
                matters within the committee's jurisdiction, including, 
                but not limited to--
                            (i) analyzing proposed trade legislation;
                            (ii) analyzing proposed trade agreements, 
                        including agreements that do not require 
                        implementing legislation; and
                            (iii) analyzing the impact of the trade 
                        policy and actions of the executive branch, 
                        including assessing the decisions not to accept 
                        unfair trade practices cases.
            (4) Dispute settlement deliberations.--To perform the 
        following functions with respect to dispute resolution:
                    (A) Participate as observers on the United States 
                delegation at dispute settlement panel meetings of the 
                World Trade Organization.
                    (B) Evaluate the results obtained by the United 
                States in dispute settlement proceedings at the World 
                Trade Organization, under the North American Free Trade 
                Agreement, and under any trade agreement entered into 
                after the enactment of this Act, including the effect 
                of the outcome of the proceedings on specific 
                industries and the economy.
            (5) Participation in trade negotiations.--To participate as 
        observers in bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade 
        negotiations.
            (6) Other functions of the office.--
                    (A) To provide Congress with quarterly reports 
                regarding the activities of the Office.
                    (B) To be available for consultation with 
                congressional committees on trade-related legislation.
                    (C) To perform such other functions relating to 
                trade as the chairman and ranking member of the 
                Committee on Finance of the Senate and the chairman and 
                ranking member of the Committee on Ways and Means of 
                the House of Representatives may request.
    (d) Additional Authorities.--In carrying out its functions, the 
Office may--
            (1) receive and review classified information and 
        participate in classified briefings in the same manner as the 
        staff of the Committee on Finance of the Senate and the 
        Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives; 
        and
            (2) consult nongovernmental experts and use nongovernmental 
        resources.
    (e) Director and Staff.--
            (1) Director.--
                    (A) In general.--There shall be at the head of the 
                Office a Director. The Director shall be appointed by 
                the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 
                President pro tempore of the Senate after considering 
                the recommendations of the chairman and ranking member 
                of the Committee on Finance of the Senate and the 
                chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Ways 
                and Means of the House of Representatives. The Director 
                shall be chosen without regard to political affiliation 
                and solely on the basis of the Director's expertise and 
                fitness to perform the duties of the Director.
                    (B) Term.--The term of office of the Director shall 
                be 5 years and the Director may be reappointed for 
                subsequent terms.
                    (C) Vacancy.--Any individual appointed as Director 
                to fill a vacancy occurring before the expiration of 
                the term for which the individual's predecessor was 
                appointed shall be appointed only for the remainder of 
                that term.
                    (D) Removal.--The Director may be removed by either 
                House of Congress by resolution.
                    (E) Compensation.--The Director shall receive 
                compensation at the annual rate of pay in effect for 
                level III of the Executive Schedule under section 5314 
                of title 5, United States Code.
            (2) Staff.--
                    (A) In general.--The Director shall appoint and fix 
                the compensation of such personnel as may be necessary 
                to carry out the duties and functions of the Office. 
                All personnel shall be appointed without regard to 
                political affiliation and solely on the basis of their 
                fitness to perform their duties. The personnel of the 
                Office shall consist of individuals with expertise in 
                international trade, including expertise in economics, 
                trade law, various industrial sectors, and various 
                geographical regions.
                    (B) Benefits.--For purposes of pay (other than the 
                pay of the Director) and employment, benefits, rights, 
                and privileges, all personnel of the Office shall be 
                treated as if they were employees of the House of 
                Representatives.
            (3) Experts and consultants.--In carrying out the duties 
        and functions of the Office, the Director may procure the 
        temporary (not to exceed 1 year) or intermittent services of 
        experts or consultants or organizations thereof by contract as 
        independent contractors, or, in the case of individual experts 
        or consultants, by employment at rates of pay not in excess of 
        the daily equivalent of the highest rate of basic pay payable 
        under the General Schedule under section 5332 of title 5, 
        United States Code.
            (4) Relationship to executive branch.--The Director may 
        secure information, data, estimates, and statistics directly 
        from any department, agency, or establishment of the executive 
        branch of Government and any regulatory agency or commission of 
        the Government. All such departments, agencies, establishments, 
        and regulatory agencies and commissions shall furnish the 
        Director any available material which the Director determines 
        to be necessary in the performance of his or her duties and 
        functions (other than material the disclosure of which would be 
        a violation of law). The Director may, upon agreement with the 
        head of any such department, agency, establishment, or 
        regulatory agency or commission, use its services and 
        facilities with or without reimbursement; and the head of each 
        such department, agency, establishment, or regulatory agency or 
        commission may provide such services and facilities to the 
        Office.
            (5) Relationship to other agencies of congress.--In 
        carrying out the duties and functions of the Office, and for 
        the purpose of coordinating the operations of the Office with 
        those of other congressional agencies in order to use most 
        effectively the information, services, and capabilities of all 
        such agencies in carrying out the responsibilities assigned to 
        each, the Director may obtain information, data, estimates, and 
        statistics developed by the Government Accountability Office, 
        the Library of Congress, and other offices of Congress, and 
        (upon agreement with them) may utilize their services and 
        facilities with or without reimbursement. The Comptroller 
        General, the Librarian of Congress, and the head of such other 
        offices of Congress are authorized to provide the Office with 
        the information, data, estimates, statistics, services, and 
        facilities referred to in the preceding sentence.

SEC. 3. PUBLIC ACCESS TO DATA.

    (a) In General.--Except as provided in subsections (b) and (c), the 
Director--
            (1) shall post on an Office website all information, data, 
        estimates, and statistics obtained under this Act;
            (2) shall make such information, data, estimates, and 
        statistics available for public copying during normal business 
        hours, subject to reasonable rules and regulations; and
            (3) shall to the extent practicable, at the request of any 
        person, furnish a copy of any such information, data, 
        estimates, or statistics upon payment by such person of the 
        cost of making and furnishing such copy.
    (b) Exceptions.--
            (1) Basis for withholding information.--Information, data, 
        estimates, and statistics may be withheld from disclosure under 
        subsection (a) only to the extent that such information, data, 
        estimates, or statistics (as the case may be)--
                    (A) are specifically exempted from disclosure by 
                law; or
                    (B) as determined by the Director, will disclose--
                            (i) matters necessary to be kept secret in 
                        the interests of national defense or the 
                        confidential conduct of the foreign relations 
                        of the United States;
                            (ii) information relating to trade secrets 
                        or financial or commercial information 
                        pertaining specifically to a given person if 
                        the information has been obtained by the 
                        Government on a confidential basis, other than 
                        through an application by such person for a 
                        specific financial or other benefit, and is 
                        required to be kept secret in order to prevent 
                        undue injury to the competitive position of 
                        such person; or
                            (iii) personnel or medical data or similar 
                        data the disclosure of which would constitute a 
                        clearly unwarranted invasion of personal 
                        privacy.
            (2) Notice of withheld information.--The Director shall 
        provide notice to the public of each instance in which 
        information has been withheld from disclosure under paragraph 
        (1), including a description of the information, and shall 
        provide an opportunity for the public to petition the Director 
        to reconsider the determination to withhold disclosure of the 
        information.
    (c) Information Obtained for Committees and Members.--Subsection 
(a) of this section shall apply to any information, data, estimates, 
and statistics obtained at the request of any committee, joint 
committee, or Member except to the extent that such committee, joint 
committee, or Member has instructed the Director not to make such 
information, data, estimates, or statistics available for public 
copying.

SEC. 4. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    There are authorized to be appropriated to the Office for each 
fiscal year such sums as may be necessary to enable the Office to carry 
out its duties and functions. Until sums are first appropriated 
pursuant to the preceding sentence, for a period not to exceed 12 
months following the effective date of this section, the expenses of 
the Office shall be paid from the contingent fund of the Senate, in 
accordance with the provisions of the paragraph relating to contingent 
funds under the heading ``UNDER LEGISLATIVE'' in the Act of October 2, 
1888 (25 Stat. 546; 2 U.S.C. 68), and upon vouchers approved by the 
Director.
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