Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless (202)224-4515
Senators Announce Bill to Aid American Manufacturers
Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation Advances Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Process to Keep American Companies Competitive
WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), along with U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), announced bipartisan legislation, S. 2794, the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016, to advance a process for American businesses and manufacturers to petition the government for temporary reductions and suspensions on duties on products that are vital components of the production of American-made goods.
The measure mirrors legislation introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Ranking Member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.). Earlier this year, Congress enacted bipartisan Customs legislation, which included language calling on Congress to create a viable path forward for the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) process to ensure that American companies were not placed at a competitive disadvantage. The introduction of today’s bill marks the first step in fulfilling that commitment.
“The MTB process helps American companies keep costs down, which helps them stay competitive, hire more workers, and grow our economy,” said Hatch. “With this legislation, we offer a smart bicameral and bipartisan approach for MTBs - one that improves transparency and allows domestic firms to receive appropriate tariff relief on products that can only be found abroad so that those firms can produce American-made goods here at home. It’s a win-win for American businesses and their workers across the country.”
“We need to do everything we can to make U.S. manufacturers more competitive – that includes passing a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill that reduces costs of components we don’t make here in the U.S. This bill breaks two years of gridlock and starts the process moving again,” Wyden said. “I want to especially thank Senator McCaskill for her leadership on this legislation.”
“I’m pleased that this new legislation embraces and builds on the work that Senator McCaskill and I have done over the last few years, which is all designed to create more jobs and boost American manufacturers,” Portman said. “The bill will simplify an outdated and complex system and provide much needed assistance to U.S. manufacturers who face unfair foreign competition. By ensuring our business and workers don’t have to pay unnecessary and anticompetitive taxes, these reforms will boost American manufacturers, grow wages, and create more jobs.”
“Getting Congressional leadership to fully abandon earmarking in all its forms has been a long slog,” said McCaskill. “But leaders on the Finance Committee and in the U.S. House have finally embraced this bipartisan plan to give American companies the level playing field they need to compete in the global market. Small businesses seeking tariff relief should be able to access that relief in a transparent, streamlined way that’s based solely on merit—and that’s something folks on both sides of the aisle can get behind.”
“The House-Senate agreement on this legislation is great news for the people who make things in North Carolina, especially the textile industry,” said Burr. "When North Carolina manufacturers thrive, so do their employees, communities, and customers. This legislation is long overdue, and I’m pleased that Congress is finally taking this critical step to ensure American manufacturers continue making products here at home."
“This legislation will help U.S. manufacturers stay competitive, which will create jobs and add to economic growth,” Casey said. “Manufacturing, particularly advanced technology manufacturing, has grown over the last years, but more efforts are needed to help manufacturers create good-paying jobs that support families. This bipartisan effort is about reducing barriers, so our manufacturing businesses, workers and the entire American economy can prosper.”
“This bipartisan agreement is an important first step in establishing a new transparent process that will help our manufacturers obtain the tariff relief they need to remain competitive and create good paying jobs in Pennsylvania,” said Toomey. “It will also reduce the undue influence of special interests and lobbyists on how this tariff relief is provided by Washington.”
“This legislation makes it easier to make more products stamped ‘Made in the U.S.A.,’” said Brown. “By reducing production costs for Ohio businesses, we will make our manufacturers more competitive and help our economy grow by creating more jobs.”
Joining the group of Senators as original co-sponsors on the bill are U.S. Senators: John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and Dan Coats (R-Ind.).
American manufacturers across the country often depend on specialized imported products to complete the development of American-made goods. In the past, when the imported product was subject to a tariff, companies often could apply for a temporary suspension or reduction of that tariff to help minimize production costs and stay competitive in the global market.
Past practice required American firms to ask a member of Congress to sponsor their request for a tariff reduction or suspension. After a thorough vetting process, the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees would draft legislation known as a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) and put into law the agreed-upon tariff reductions or suspensions. The program, in this form, lapsed in 2012.
Last year, the Senate passed bipartisan Customs legislation that included legislation to advance the MTB process. Unfortunately, the provision was not included in the final Conference Report that cleared both chambers of the Congress and was signed into law in February.
The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016 advances the process by allowing American companies to apply directly to the nonpartisan International Trade Commission (ITC) for temporary tariff relief. The ITC will examine each individual request and submit its recommendations to the Congress. The Congress then will develop MTB legislation to be enacted into law. By eliminating Member initiation of individual duty suspension or reduction requests, the legislation is consistent with Senate and House Rules.
A copy of the bill text can be found here.
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