The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a $1.1 trillion spending package that avoids a government shutdown. The bill is now headed to the Senate, which is expected to vote on the measure and send it to President Obama for final approval.
Included in the omnibus bill is a repeal of country of origin labeling, which would avoid retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imported products from Canada and Mexico. The two countries were granted the authority to levy more than $1 billion in tariffs after the World Trade Organization repeatedly ruled that the U.S. COOL rule was discriminatory against Canadian and Mexican meat products.
The COOL Reform Coalition, representing more than 140 companies and associations from a broad spectrum of industries, applauds the House for passing the omnibus spending bill that including a fix to U.S. COOL requirements for muscle cuts of beef and pork.
“Passage of the spending bill by the House is a major step towards preventing over $1 billion in retaliation by Mexico and Canada. With implementation of retaliatory tariffs expected to begin any day, we urge the Senate to also approve an omnibus that prevents retaliation,” the group said in a statement. “Without action, irreparable harm of the U.S. economy and the loss of thousands of American jobs are imminent. The Senate must act now to avoid this coming economic crisis.”
Canada's ambassador to the U.S., Gary Doer, welcomed the news but said he wouldn't be celebrating until the bill passes both chambers of Congress and gets signed by the president, reports CBC News.
"This is the result of a full-court press," he said, referring to the government and business lobbying efforts over the years. "(But) we won't have a beer to celebrate — a Canadian beer to celebrate — until the president signs the bill."
North American Meat Institute President & CEO Barry Carpenter praised Congress for including the COOL repeal in the omnibus bill.
“This Congressional action is an important step in avoiding the financial harm so many industries will incur once Canada and Mexico initiate the tariffs sanctioned by the WTO’s ruling earlier this month,” he said. “We urge Congress to pass the Omnibus bill quickly. This trade dispute’s tentacles extend far beyond agriculture and it’s time to put an end to this costly trade barrier. The marketplace, with consumers as the drivers, should determine what labeling is meaningful and should appear on meat products – not protectionists who fear free and unfettered trade.”
Source: CNN, COOL Reform Coalition, CBC, NAMI