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Jason Kearns, L’96

Commissioner of U.S. International Trade Commission (to be confirmed)

Jason Kearns was nominated in June 2017 to serve as a Commissioner of the U.S. International Trade Commission.  He was originally nominated by outgoing President Obama in January 2017, his nomination was then resubmitted by President Trump and is pending Senate confirmation.  Prior to this nomination, Kearns served as the Chief International Trade Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means. 


In 2006, Kearns joined the Committee on Ways and Means; he became the Chief International Trade Counsel in 2012.  As well as serving in an advisory role vis-à-vis trade agreements, Kearns oversaw the enforcement of past accords to ensure the maintenance of negotiated standards and clauses.  In recent years, much of his time focused on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the nascent Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).  On behalf of the Ways and Means Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI-09), Kearns focused upon guaranteeing that the finalized agreement promulgated important objectives such as agricultural market access, an opening of the Japanese automotive industry, protections against currency manipulation, and heightening environmental and labor standards.


After obtaining his undergraduate degree from the University of Denver in Economics and Russian, Kearns attended Penn Law with an interest in litigation. He practiced for a year in Chicago for Mayer, Brown & Platt. Upon learning of his studies in Russian, the firm assigned him to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan as an Associate in International Practice. This placement stimulated his interest in global commerce, which led him to an MPP at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, concentrating on international trade and finance.  Following graduation, Kearns joined WilmerHale as an associate in the international trade department. After three years in this position, Kearns transitioned to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).  While at USTR, Kearns’s diverse portfolio included drafting international agreements and representing the United States as a litigator in front of global judicial bodies.


Kearns notes that his Penn Law degree provides the foundation upon which his international trade and economic platform is built. His legal expertise is the vehicle that helps facilitate a deeper understating of trade processes and agreements.