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Obama signs tariff-relief bill

Obama signs tariff-relief bill
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President Obama on Friday signed a long-delayed tariff relief bill aimed at helping U.S. manufacturers save billions in costs.

The Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) measure, which cleared the Senate on May 10, was delayed for several years as lawmakers worked to craft legislation that would comply with the congressional ban on earmarks.

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The bill will overhaul the process for reducing or eliminating tariffs on imported inputs and products not available or in short supply domestically.

House and Senate lawmakers worked quickly on passing the legislation once they swept away any earmark issues. 

Under the legislation, petitions for tariff relief would go to the International Trade Commission. The agency would then analyze the petitions and issue public reports to Congress with recommendations.

The Ways and Means Committee could then draft a proposal for tariff relief based on the ITC recommendations, but lawmakers could not add new ones.

The committee would then certify the proposal as earmark-free so it could be considered under House rules.

Previously, individual members of Congress sought tariff relief on behalf of companies, which conservatives and good government groups decried as an abuse of earmarks.

Business groups have been urging Congress to renew the legislation since the last measure expired at the end of 2012.

Without a measure in place, manufacturers said that companies have faced an annual $748 million tax hike on manufacturing in the United States, representing a $1.85 billion loss to the U.S. economy.