Yesterday, the Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), held a hearing to discuss the benefits of providing tariff relief to U.S. manufacturers and to examine the new and transparent process for the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) – legislation that helps U.S. manufacturers compete globally and create more jobs at home.
For decades, Congress has passed MTBs to temporarily reduce or suspend tariffs on certain imported products that are not produced in the United States. This legislation lowers the cost of imports, boosting American manufacturers’ competitiveness and ultimately lowering prices for consumers.
In 2016, the Ways and Means Committee led a bipartisan effort to update the process for considering temporary tariff reductions and suspensions through the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016 (AMCA). The AMCA passed both chambers with near unanimous support and was signed into law in May 2016.
As Chairman Reichert said:
“Under the new MTB process, companies petition the independent, non-partisan International Trade Commission – not individual Members of Congress – for tariff relief. The new process is open and transparent, and establishes an opportunity for public comment. It provides predictability for our businesses while complying with House rules.”
The Subcommittee heard from business leaders from across the country about the positive impact this updated MTB process is having on their companies.
When asked what her company will do with the savings and revenues generated from tariff relief, Gowan Agricultural Relations Director Cindy Smith said that the profits go to where they should – the workers:
“We have a profit sharing program with our employees – 700 employees. Anything I could do to reduce my costs benefits my employees. It allows me to continue to provide healthcare coverage. It allows me to pay bonuses. It allows us to give raises.”
Michael Ratchford, Government Relations Associate at technology company W.L. Gore & Associates, praised the new MTB process as a fair and transparent way for U.S. businesses to seek needed tariff relief:
“The AMCA creates an open process where stakeholders and the public can monitor filed petitions, comment, and better understand how petitions are evaluated. The new MTB process is significantly more transparent than previous iterations and ensures that stakeholders have ample opportunity to be actively involved during the vetting process, before being considered by Congress.”
Ed McAssey, Chief Operating Officer of Lasko Products headquartered in West Chester, Pennsylvania, explained how the MTB will help Lasko and its employees compete on a level playing field with Chinese manufacturers:
“We are in a business of pennies and can sometimes lose a fan sale to overseas competitors due to a cost differential of 20 to 30 cents. The duty relief provided by the MTB on motor assemblies and related parts enables us to compete with suppliers in China who do not incur the costs of livable wages, health insurance, and retirement contributions that we provide to our employees.”
Throughout the hearing, Members talked about the success of the updated MTB process and the benefits that the recommended tariff relief will have on their states.
Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) told a story about Topeka-based company, Goodyear Tires. Goodyear is seeking relief through the new MTB process for certain tire molds that are not produced anywhere in the United States. The ITC recommended that these molds be included in MTB legislation, which would allow Goodyear to import them without having to incur a pointless tariff, keeping the company globally competitive and employing hundreds of hardworking Kansans.
The Congresswoman said:
“This new MTB process … [is] increasing our competitiveness abroad while creating and saving jobs here at home.”
Rep. George Holding (R-NC) talked about the economic impact that the MTB will have in North Carolina:
“North Carolina has more MTBs recommended by the ITC than any other state. Of the 1,800 petitions of the ITC, over 330 of those were submitted by North Carolina businesses. Those petitions estimate after tax savings of $70 million in 2018 alone.
Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-MN) acknowledged that the MTB is necessary and has had tremendous impacts on American businesses. With respect to the broader trade agenda, Mr. Paulsen asked the panelists:
“Do you believe that it is important for the United States to maintain its existing trade agreements and to also work on negotiating additional agreements?”
Ms. Smith responded:
“We are totally supportive of anything that lets U.S. growers sell their products overseas. So I would say: yes, the trade agreements we have in place are very critical for agriculture. Any work we do on trade agreements we should first look at, you know, what is the impact to U.S. business, right, and make sure we do no harm to U.S. business.”
Chairman Reichert closed the hearing by emphatically committing to quick action to implement the ITC’s recommendations for tariff relief that U.S. manufacturers need to better compete around the world:
“[Miscellaneous Tariff Bills] provide so much for, not only your companies, but the revenue you generate. It goes back into your companies to your employees and then even out into the community and … finally to the benefit of U.S. consumers for less expensive products. This is a priority for us to complete this year, and its timely renewal is critical.”
Ways and Means Committee is committed to moving swiftly on legislation to deliver tariff relief to U.S. businesses and consumers.
CLICK HERE to learn more about today’s hearing.