Business groups key-vote miscellaneous tariff bill

Business groups key-vote miscellaneous tariff bill
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Two business groups said Tuesday they will key-vote House passage of a measure that would eliminate duties on imported raw materials needed for production that aren’t readily available in the United States.

The National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will record how House lawmakers vote on the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, which is set for a vote under suspension of the rules Tuesday evening.

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If passed by the House, which is expected, the bill would head to the Senate for clearance to the White House.  

The program, which expired five years ago, is expected to save businesses millions of dollars a year while making them more globally competitive.

"The [bill] corrects, on a temporary basis, distortions in the U.S. tariff code by eliminating duties on imported products for which there is no or insufficient domestic production and availability,” Aric Newhouse, National Association of Manufacturers senior vice president of policy and government relations, wrote in a letter to House members announcing the key vote.

"Such distortions undermine the competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States by imposing unnecessary costs," Newhouse said.

Congress has not passed a tariff bill since a 2010 law expired at the end of 2012.

Jack Howard, the U.S. Chamber's senior vice president for congressional and public affairs, said that since the 2012 expiration "U.S. businesses both large and small have faced hundreds of millions of dollars in higher tariff costs."

"These higher costs limit the ability of companies to expand production, hire additional workers, or invest in new cost-saving equipment," Howard said in the Chamber's notification to lawmakers. 

The bill includes nearly 1,700 eligible petitions for the tariff break as reported by the U.S. International Trade Commission, which vetted applications for duty relief.

Lawmakers revamped the process of choosing what products would receive the tariff treatment to avoid any conflicts with a congressional rule that prohibits earmarks. 

The Chamber and the National Association of Manufacturers estimate that the legislation would eliminate import tariffs of more than $1.1 billion over the next three years and boost U.S. manufacturing output by more than $3.1 billion.

In December, the National Association of Manufacturers and nearly 200 business organizations urged Congress to expedite passage of the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill measure.