Business groups urge Congress to add miscellaneous tariff bill to omnibus package

Business groups urge Congress to add miscellaneous tariff bill to omnibus package
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More than 200 business groups on Friday called on Congress to include in a final omnibus spending package a tariff bill that would eliminate duties on imported raw materials used in production that aren’t readily available in the United States.

Led by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the groups sent a letter urging Congress to add the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB), which easily passed the House in January but has stalled in the Senate, to the developing spending measure. 

“Congress now has the opportunity to address this self-imposed tax on U.S. competitiveness,” the letter said.

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The MTB bill has broad bipartisan support in the House and the Senate but has yet to land on the schedule in the upper chamber. 

"Chairman [Orrin] Hatch [R-Utah] continues to work toward the goal of passing MTB legislation as soon as possible," a Republican aide told The Hill, referring to the head of the Senate Finance Committee. 

Still, the best shot at sending the bill to President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE's desk may be hitching a ride on the larger omnibus bill that is in the works. 

Manufacturers and other businesses across the country have been paying nearly $1 million per day in tariffs since the beginning of this year on products not made or available in the United States because the full Congress has not yet approved the legislation, the letter said.

The MTB measure 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.

The business groups argue that the MTB "plays an important role in the operations of domestic manufacturers as it corrects, on a temporary basis, historical distortions in the U.S. tariff code by eliminating border tariffs on imported products for which there is no or insufficient domestic production and availability."

"Such distortions undermine the competitiveness of manufacturers in the United States by imposing unnecessary costs and, in some cases, imposing a higher cost on manufacturers’ inputs than the competing foreign imported finished product," the letter said. 

Congress has not passed an MTB since a 2010 law expired at the end of 2012.

The groups estimate that the legislation would eliminate import tariffs of more than $1.1 billion over the next three years and increase U.S. manufacturing output by more than $3.1 billion.

"For nearly five years, manufacturers and other businesses have been held back by out-of-date and distortive import tariffs that are costing billions of dollars," the letter said.

In early November, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyLobbying groups ask Congress for help on Trump tariffs Republicans pour cold water on Trump's term limit idea Republicans' rendezvous with reality — their plan is to cut Social Security MORE (R-Texas), panel ranking member Richard NealRichard Edmund NealLobbying groups ask Congress for help on Trump tariffs Senate confirms two Treasury nominees over Democratic objections Trump urges judge to deny New York's motion to dismiss state tax return lawsuit MORE (D-Mass.), Hatch and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenOvernight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Microsoft to provide free updates for voting systems running Windows 7 through 2020 Interior watchdog investigating political appointees' review of FOIA requests MORE (D-Ore.) introduced the bill.

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

NAM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce key-voted the House bill in January.