U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood will continue serving on the Ways and Means Committee in the new session of Congress.
The slot on the panel that addresses tax and trade issues is a coveted one, and one that focuses on critical issues for central Illinois when it comes to trade.
"Trade equals jobs and economic opportunities for central and west-central Illinois," the Peoria Republican said.
One of the first things the committee will be discussing is the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement that was reached last year by President Donald Trump's administration.
About one-third of products produced in Illinois go to Mexico or Canada, LaHood said, who called the pact a "good template for what we need to do moving forward."
The panel also has oversight authority over the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, essentially giving members a front-row seat to addressing what amounts to a tit-for-tat trade war with China.
On that score, LaHood said that while he's no fan of tariffs, he appreciates that Trump has been able to bring the Chinese to the bargaining table and hopes the matter can be resolved quickly given a reported nationwide decline of 13 percent in agricultural income in 2018.
He said the committee is also likely to consider bilateral trade agreements with the European Union and with a post-Brexit United Kingdom, as well as Japan. LaHood's focus there, he said, will be to advocate for manufacturing interests such as Caterpillar and John Deere.
"I look forward to having a strong, strong voice for free and open trade and pushing back against some of those protectionist voices," he said.
He'll also co-chair a working group of the committee focusing on Alzheimer's disease.
LaHood will also serve on the panel's oversight subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over the Internal Revenue Service.