September 16,2004

Prospects for the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act

This important piece of legislation has been stalled for much too long. I am worried that if we do not see appointment of Senate conferees soon, our opportunity to see passage of the bill thisyear will be lost.

The Senate historically passes a miscellaneous tariff bill at the end of every Congress. In fact, the bill that remains stalled today was supposed to have been passed at the end of the 107th Congress. However, a mark-up scheduled for September 26, 2002, was cancelled, leaving the billas unfinished business for the current Congress. Upon resuming the chairmanship of the Finance Committee, my intention was to complete unfinished business from the 107th Congress as quicklyas possible. To that end we passed the bill out of the Senate Finance Committee by voice vote onFebruary 27, 2003. Unfortunately, continued efforts to load the bill down with costly and controversial items delayed floor consideration of the bill for over a year – it was not until March4, 2004, that we were able to pass the bill by unanimous consent. The House appointed confereeson May 20, 2004. However, to date, Democratic leadership has prevented the Senate from appointingconferees. So, with just a few legislative days left, the bill remains stalled. I fear it may never reachthe President’s desk.

This is a shame. This bill contains many trade provisions, primarily duty suspensions,reductions and extensions, for products that are not produced domestically. This bill supportsAmerican factories and workers by allowing manufacturers to save money when they import theseproducts. We should be doing all we can to help American manufacturing compete. And that is whatthis bill does. I hope we will see progress in appointing conferees soon.