When 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside of the United States, Senator Heitkamp knows that North Dakota’s biggest industries like agriculture, energy, and manufacturing need to be able to export to survive and thrive.
Since joining the Senate, Senator Heitkamp has been proactively fighting for smart trade policies to protect North Dakota producers. She believes bad actors like China that cheat on trade must be dealt with by strengthening partnerships with our allies and enforcing trade laws to create a level playing field for American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers.
From the beginning of this administration, Senator Heitkamp has warned against trade policies that cause North Dakota harm. She talked about her concerns on this issue during her first meeting with the now U.S. Agriculture Department Secretary in February 2017 when he was a nominee for the position. Through legislation, frequent meetings with top administration officials, and meetings with folks across North Dakota, she has fought against a trade war that has depressed prices for commodities like soybeans and increased input costs for North Dakota energy producers and manufactures.
Senator Heitkamp has taken proactive steps to stand up for North Dakota farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers who face repercussions from the trade war. She introduced bipartisan legislation with U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) to require congressional approval of tariffs designated for national security reasons, such as the aluminum and steel tariffs imposed on our trading partners like the European Union, Canada, and Mexico. She also cosponsored bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to nullify the steel and aluminum tariffs. Additionally, Senator Heitkamp introduced a bill to help farmers and ranchers recover losses they face because of the administration’s trade war, and she introduced another bill to direct funds the government is collecting from tariffs on imported goods toward trade promotion assistance to help open new markets for farmers and ranchers hurt by the trade war.
Boosting U.S. Agriculture Exports to Cuba
Senator Heitkamp has also actively pushed to open new markets for North Dakota producers. In the bipartisan Farm Bill passed out of the Senate in 2018, Senator Heitkamp secured inclusion of a provision that would support a strong Cuban export market for U.S. agricultural producers and processors. This change in USDA policy would provide some needed relief from low American commodity prices by fostering a new, reliable trade relationship, boosting agricultural export revenue, and increasing export volume for American farmers and ranchers. This builds on Senator Heitkamp’s efforts to boost trade with Cuba going back to 2015, when she first introduced bipartisan legislation to lift the ban on private banks and companies offering credit for agricultural exports to Cuba.
Supporting American Jobs and Manufacturers with the Export-Import Bank
Senator Heitkamp has been a strong supporter of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, which has helped North Dakota businesses grow, expand, and hire more American workers by providing loans, loan guarantees, and insurance to facilitate overseas sales by U.S. firms. But in June 2015, Congress let the Export-Import Bank expire for the first time in the agency’s more than 80 year history.
Senator Heitkamp wants to get the Bank back up and fully functioning so it can support American jobs and businesses, including many across North Dakota. In North Dakota alone, businesses have $50 million of authorizations from the Bank that could be put at risk in the future if it doesn’t have a full board seated or authority to boost lending without a quorum.
In December 2015, Congress passed Senator Heitkamp’s bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Bank with strong bipartisan support. Senator Heitkamp helped pass out of the Senate Banking Committee four nominees to serve on the Export-Import Bank’s Board of Directors, getting the Bank’s board one step closer to having the quorum it needs to fully operate and support American jobs and businesses, including many in North Dakota.
Senator Heitkamp pressed then President-elect Trump to get the Bank fully functioning in a meeting at Trump Tower in December 2016, and she secured a commitment from him to get the Bank up and running in a meeting shortly after he was sworn in.