In the view of some, these duty suspensions are an earmark because they provide a “limited tariff benefit,” which is defined under House rules as benefiting 10 or fewer entities. However, the MTB’s benefits are in no way limited: The duty suspension is available to all importers of the product.
Moreover, the process for approving products for duty suspension under the MTB is fully transparent. Requests are subject to review by the Department of Commerce, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and the U.S. International Trade Commission. Opportunities for public comment are provided by both the executive branch and Congress.
The good news is that support for the MTB is broad and growing. Recently, 65 fiscally conservative freshman House members signed a letter agreeing that the MTB is not an earmark. Organizations such as Americans for Tax Reform agree that MTBs don’t amount to an earmark or a limited tariff benefit.
Given its importance to U.S. competitiveness, American jobs, and simple fair play, the MTB should receive the same strong support in Congress it has in the past.
Murphy is vice president for international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.