Republican Leadership Endorses McCaskill Bill
Senators bipartisan legislation streamlines process for manufacturers, guard against return of pork-barrel projects
June 13, 2012
WASHINGTON - Republican leaders in the U.S. Senate have endorsed U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill's bipartisan legislation to simplify federal processes for America's manufacturers, while continuing to guard against Congressional earmarks for pork-barrel projects.
"It's gratifying to see that bipartisan compromise is possible in Congress-especially on an issue as important as boosting American jobs and helping our manufacturers," said McCaskill, a longtime and outspoken opponent of Congressional earmarks. "We've already seen leaders in the U.S. House try to sneak around the earmark ban and nab taxpayer dollars for their own pet projects, so I'm going to stay vigilant while reducing unnecessary burdens for Missouri's employers."
McCaskill has led the effort in the Senate, along with Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), to streamline the federal process for American manufacturers known as duty-suspension, while preventing the return of earmarks. Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), along with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), today endorsed her efforts.
In today's high-tech and globalized economy, American companies need a host of specialized materials, such as certain fibers or chemicals, to build their products. Often, those materials are not produced in the United States, and can only be purchased from overseas. However, tariffs on those specialized materials produced overseas can make them expensive to import, putting American manufacturers at a disadvantage with respect to their foreign competition. In some cases, tariffs on materials make it cheaper to move production overseas altogether-hurting American job-growth.
In cases where a product is subject to a tariff and is unavailable for purchase from an American company, current rules allow companies needing that product to get tariff relief. Congress has regularly passed a "Miscellaneous Tariff Bill" comprised of hundreds of tariff reductions for such products. However, the process requires those companies to get members of Congress to introduce a bill on their behalf for each item on which they wish to suspend tariffs. Once those businesses have convinced a member of Congress to introduce such a tariff-relief bill, their request can be sent to the International Trade Commission (ITC) for review.
In order to get a tariff relief bill introduced, these companies usually hire high-priced lobbyists, a particularly difficult hurdle for small businesses, and often feel compelled to make political contributions to the politician-an entirely inappropriate influence.
McCaskill, along with Senator Rob Portman, have introduced the Temporary Duty Suspension Process Act to streamline the process for duty-suspensions by allowing companies to submit their proposals directly to the International Trade Commission, and retaining final approval for Congress. These changes would bolster accountability by lessening the chance for backdoor earmarks-and would improve the process for job-creators, as they would no longer be forced to hire high-paid lobbyists to help get individual legislation introduced at the start of the process.
There would be three paths for an article to be considered for a temporary duty suspension or reduction: (1) initiated by the United States International Trade Commission (USITC); (2) via petition from an outside party; or (3) by a referral from a Member of Congress, although no preference could be shown. Through this process, the USITC would review particular articles for approval, allow public comments and objections, take comments from the Administration and Congress, and submit a draft bill containing its recommendations for duty suspensions or reductions to the appropriate Congressional Committees. The bill preserves the role of Congress in the overall duty suspension process by requiring the USITC draft bill to be processed under regular order.
The bill authorizes the new process to be used for three rounds (2012, 2015, and 2018). While it requires a comprehensive review by the ITC of all possible eligible items in 2015 and 2018, an exception is included for the 2012 round so that it can be completed under a truncated timeline.
A copy of McCaskill and Portman's bipartisan bill is available online, HERE.
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