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Camp Floor Statement: H.R. 4380, the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill

July 21, 2010

I am disappointed that I cannot support this legislation.

The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill has long been a bipartisan effort that helps both American manufacturers and consumers obtain lower-cost access to products that aren’t made in the United States.

The process used to assemble this legislation is a model in transparency and accountability.  This is a long-standing process that has been used by many Congresses – under both Republican and Democrat control – and should serve as an example of how similar legislation should be prepared.

  • Every provision is first introduced as a separate bill.
  • Each provision is vetted by the Administration and by the U.S. International Trade Commission and is subject to public notice and comment.
  • All information is posted on the Committee website.
  • Any provision receiving any opposition is removed from the final package. 

In my view, this bill technically does not contain earmarks in the form of limited tariff benefits. Each provision lowers duties on imports, and any company or person that imports that product receives the benefit of those lower duties, not just those we can positively identify today.  Despite these facts, Democrats have written the rules of the House in such a way as to treat limited tariff benefits like other earmarks.  The Democrats were wrong to do so.

But the Republican Conference has taken the position, and correctly so, that we are taking a one-year moratorium on all the provisions included in the Democrat Rule to demonstrate our commitment to getting government spending under control.  I am committed to both the letter and spirit of that moratorium and therefore will vote against this bill.

In fact, the Majority is well aware of our earmark ban, and I can’t help but wonder if this bill was put on the suspension calendar – after three-and-a-half years without a vote – so that it would fail and they might avoid taking the blame.  It is a sham and it won’t work.  The business community knows it, the American workers whose jobs depend on it know it, and we know it – Democrats have had three-and-a-half-years to pass the MTB and they have failed to do so.

Congress has not passed an MTB bill since December 2006 — right before the Democrats took the Majority.  The only new trade bill they have considered in that time is the Peru trade agreement.

I think the record speaks for itself – Republicans have long-supported the MTB and U.S. employers while the Democrats have written rules that discriminate against this bill.  More importantly, business investment and hiring are frozen in the face of looming tax hikes, smothering government regulation and little or no action on the trade agenda – all brought about by Washington Democrats. 

A true commitment to trade and the good-paying U.S. jobs it provides would involve passing the pending bilateral trade agreements, which, economically, are even more important to this country.

Mr. Speaker, what you are seeing today is merely one more attempt by the Majority to distract American workers and employers from the real damage they’ve done to the American economy.  This legislation cannot overcome the over $670 billion in new taxes already passed by this Congress and the billions more coming.  It cannot overcome the anti-business attitude of so much of the legislation produced by the Majority. 

Mr. Speaker, if my friends on the other side of the aisle were truly interested in helping American manufacturers, they’d be lowering taxes, knocking down trade barriers, and supporting the private sector.  This legislation is no substitute for those policies.

Mr. Speaker, the House should take a breather from earmarks, as called for in the Republican Conference Moratorium.  It is unfortunate that this pause includes the MTB, but we didn’t write the Rule.  I urge my colleagues to show the American people we are serious about reforming the way Washington works and vote no.  I reserve the balance of my time.