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Let’s Make a Trade

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is hoping to establish a new legislative branch agency to provide Congress with nonpartisan expertise and analysis on trade issues in the same manner that the Congressional Budget Office advises on federal budgetary issues. [IMGCAP(1)]

The Congressional Trade Office, which DeFazio proposed in legislation introduced Thursday, would serve both the House and Senate by providing any committees with oversight of issues impacted by trade agreements with information regarding trade policy. The office also would serve Congress by analyzing the president’s annual National Trade Policy Agenda, the National Trade Estimate report and trade balances with international trading partners.

DeFazio also hopes that the office could serve as Congress’ eyes and ears at deliberations held by the World Trade Organization and in multinational trade negotiations.

A release from DeFazio’s office Thursday stated, “Congress created the CBO in response to concerns about the concentration of power within the executive branch at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). … Given the complexity and broad economic and social impacts of today’s trade agreements, it is critical to provide Congress with similar expertise on trade matters.”

Madame President. Nearly a century after its 1908 founding, the Congressional Club last week elected Vivian Creighton Bishop, wife of Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), as its first black president. She takes over from Vicki Tiahrt.

The club, which supports numerous charities in addition to hosting the annual First Lady’s Luncheon and a diplomatic reception, meets twice a month on Thursdays for lunch. The spouses of current and former Members, along with the spouses of Supreme Court justices and members of the president’s Cabinet, are all eligible to join, as are female Members and former first ladies.

The 54-year-old Bishop, who previously was the club’s first vice president, will serve a two-year term in her new post, which alternates between parties. She is a former president of the Congressional Black Caucus Spouses and has served on the CBC Foundation’s board of directors.

Latino Museum? Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.) reintroduced legislation last week that would create a blue-ribbon commission to study the idea of a national museum of American Latino history. H.R. 512 would create a 23-member panel charged with convening a national conference to discuss such a museum, as well as crafting a public-private fundraising blueprint and a legislative “plan of action” on how to make the concept a reality.

An identical measure passed the House under suspension of the rules in September but was blocked in the Senate.

Sens. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) and Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) are expected to reintroduce a companion bill in the coming weeks.

— John McArdle and Bree Hocking

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