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Michael R. Wessel

Commissioner Michael R. Wessel, an original member of the Commission, was reappointed by then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a term expiring December 31, 2024.

Commissioner Wessel served on the staff of former House Democratic Leader Richard Gephardt for more than two decades, leaving his position as general counsel in March 1998. In addition, Commissioner Wessel was Congressman Gephardt’s chief policy advisor, strategist, and negotiator.  He was responsible for the development, coordination, management, and implementation of the Democratic leader’s overall policy and political objectives, with specific responsibility for international trade, finance, economics, labor, and taxation.

During his more than 20 years on Capitol Hill, Commissioner Wessel served in a number of positions. As Congressman Gephardt’s principal Ways and Means aide, he developed and implemented numerous tax and trade policy initiatives. He participated in the enactment of every major trade policy initiative from 1978 until his departure in 1998. In the late 1980s, he was the executive director of the House Trade and Competitiveness Task Force, where he was responsible for the Democrats’ trade and competitiveness agenda as well as overall coordination of the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988. He currently serves as staff chair of the Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy to the USTR and Secretary of Labor.

Commissioner Wessel was intimately involved in the development of comprehensive tax reform legislation in the early 1980s and every major tax bill during his tenure. Beginning in 1989, he became the principal advisor to the Democratic leadership on economic policy matters and served as tax policy coordinator to the 1990 budget summit.

In 1988, he served as national issues director for Congressman Gephardt’s presidential campaign. During the 1992 presidential campaign, he assisted the Clinton presidential campaign on a broad range of issues and served as a senior policy advisor to the Clinton Transition Office. In 2004, he was a senior policy advisor to the Gephardt for President Campaign and later co-chaired the Trade Policy Group for the Kerry presidential campaign. In 2008, he was publicly identified as a trade and economic policy advisor to the Obama presidential campaign and advised the Clinton campaign in 2016 and Biden campaign in 2020.

He coauthored a number of articles with Congressman Gephardt and a book, An Even Better Place: America in the 21st Century. Commissioner Wessel served as a member of the U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission in 1999–2000, a congressionally created commission charged with studying the nature, causes, and consequences of the U.S. merchandise trade and current account deficits.

Today, Commissioner Wessel is President of The Wessel Group Incorporated, a public affairs consulting firm offering expertise in government, politics, and international affairs. Commissioner Wessel holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Juris Doctorate from The George Washington University. He is a member of the Bars of the District of Columbia and of Pennsylvania and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He and his wife Andrea have four children and two grandchildren.