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Republican Congressman: Both parties could agree on retirement and trade in 2022

·Senior Producer and Writer
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It’s hard to imagine much bipartisan cooperation coming in 2022.

President Joe Biden said Wednesday the strategy of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is “to do anything to prevent Biden from being a success.”

And speaking to Yahoo Finance the next day, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) shot back by saying, “We haven't had a single invitation to sit down, from this president or Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi.”

Despite the gridlock, Brady mentioned four areas he believes both parties could agree on in 2022: trade; retirement legislation; medical supply chains with China; and “making America more internationally competitive.”

Retirement security

Retirement has long been a key priority for Brady, the House Ways & Means Committee ranking member; it's also important to his Democratic counterpart on that committee, Chairman Richard Neal of Massachusetts.

But efforts to pass retirement legislation flamed out in 2021. One bipartisan effort informally called SECURE 2.0 seemed to be on track for passage before Congress's other efforts crowded them out.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) speaks with Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) prior to a House Ways and Means Committee markup of the Republican Tax Reform legislation on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) speaks with Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) prior to a House Ways and Means Committee. (REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein)

The retirement legislation has been sponsored by both Neal and Brady in the past and has provisions such as raising the age people must start taking mandatory distributions from their private retirement plans (both 401(k) plans and IRAs). It would also push employers to automatically enroll new employees into the company retirement plan if they offer one.

Brady isn't alone in his optimism that retirement legislation could pass this year. “I think our chance for success in the upcoming year to get the SECURE 2.0 on the books is pretty positive,” Rep. Fred Keller (R-PA), who's also on the Ways & Means committee, said in a recent webinar co-hosted by Yahoo Finance and the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Trade

Brady fiercely opposes Biden on most issues, but they both advocate for fewer trade restrictions in the years ahead. “I want to see less of both managed and tariffed trade,” Brady has said.

A deal with the European Union to ease tariffs on steel and aluminum last year garnered support of select Republicans like Brady and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 13: U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai (R) is greeted by House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Kevin Brady (R-TX) before the start of a hearing at Capitol Hill on May 13, 2021 in Washington DC. Tai took questions from members about President Biden’s 2021 trade policy agenda.  (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai - who previously served as the chief trade counsel for the United States House Committee on Ways and Means - greets Kevin Brady before the start of a hearing in May. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump imposed the tariffs on EU steel and aluminum. Claiming the foreign products threatened U.S. national security, Trump used the Article 232 section of U.S. trade law to justify the tariffs.

The Biden administration has been conducting discussions on more steel and aluminum tariffs this month to further “unwind Trump-era trade policies,” Politico noted on Wednesday.

Other issues both parties might agree on

Brady also mentioned “making America medically independent from China in a number of areas” — an issue that rose to the fore with shortages of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

One bipartisan effort introduced in October would create a “voluntary list of domestic manufacturers to produce medical supplies during severe shortages.” Another bill aims to shore up the nation’s Strategic National Stockpile, which provides medical supplies to states, tribal nations, territories, and big cities in the event of a public health emergency.

And being prepared for the next emergency is clearly a priority for Brady. Asked about the Republican message in 2022, Brady said, “We have to have a country that doesn't lurch from crisis to crisis.”

Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

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