Background

The House of Representatives approved April 27 by a 415-2 vote a bill (H.R. 4923) to reform the process of developing and enacting miscellaneous trade bills, which suspend duties on imported inputs and products for which there is no or insufficient domestic production and availability. The Senate could take up the bill as early as next week.

Under H.R. 4923, the MTB process would begin with petitions submitted by U.S. businesses to the International Trade Commission rather than via legislation introduced by members of Congress. The ITC would analyze these petitions, taking into account comments received from the public and the White House, and then issue a public report to Congress with its recommendations regarding those products that meet MTB standards. Ways and Means would then examine the ITC’s recommendations and draft an MTB, which could exclude products recommended by the ITC but could not add products that were not recommended. The committee would have to certify that there are no spending earmarks and publish a list of any limited tariff benefits (tax cuts that benefit ten or fewer businesses). The House and Senate would then consider the MTB within existing rules.

In an April 25 op-ed, Club for Growth President David McIntosh and Heritage Action for America Chief Executive Officer Michael Needham called on Congress to go even further in one of three ways: (1) eliminating all tariffs that generate less than $500,000 per year in federal revenue, (2) make permanent any tariff relief enacted through the proposed process rather than having it expire after three years, or (3) drop the requirement that goods not be produced in the U.S. to be eligible for the MTB.

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