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McCain, Flake warn against 'politically-motivated penalties' for Canadian defense firm
Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake are pushing the International Trade Commission (ITC) to "deliberate thoughtfully" before potentially issuing a crippling tariff on commercial jets from Canadian defense firm Bombardier.
"U.S. trade laws should be dutifully enforced," the Republican senators wrote in a Sept. 28 letter to commission Chairwoman Rhonda Schmidtlein.
"In doing so, we urge the ITC to avoid levying unnecessary or politically-motivated penalties that could have negative impacts on aerospace employees, U.S. air carriers, and airline consumers."
The lawmakers argue that Bombardier, which employs 7,000 U.S. workers in 17 states, including Arizona, "has demonstrated an enduring commitment to the U.S."
Flake told The Hill Tuesday that he and McCain sent the letter because they want the ITC "to follow the rules" and make sure "they aren't targeting Bombardier unnecessarily."
The Commerce Department last week imposed a nearly 220 percent preliminary tariff on Bombardier's new C-series commercial jets, bought by Delta Air Lines. Boeing had complained to the department in April that the passenger aircraft received unfair Canadian government subsidies.
Neither Boeing nor any other U.S. company makes a C-series rival, but the Commerce Department sided with the American firm, noting, "even our closest allies must play by the rules."
The duty will only take effect if the ITC agrees with Boeing in the case, with a final decision expected in 2018.
United Kingdom government officials were reportedly furious at the decision, and after the tariff announcement warned Boeing it could lose defense contracts in the country.
Bombardier employs about 4,000 people at a plant in East Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau earlier this month made a similar threat.
Canada "won't do business with a company that's busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business," Trudeau said during a Sept. 18 news conference.
Canada is in the midst of negotiations to buy 18 Boeing-made F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets for more than $5 billion.
Flake said he is not worried a steep tariff could put in jeopardy potential business for Boeing in other countries, rather, "we just want a level playing field between Bombardier and all the other manufacturers. That's what we're looking for."