Yesterday taxpayers scored a victory when the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4923, the “American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016.” This legislation will create a process by which Congress can easily cut or eliminate tariffs on imported goods that are not produced domestically.
National Taxpayers Union Executive Vice President Brandon Arnold applauded the 415-2 vote: “This overwhelming, near-unanimous support of tariff cuts will help promote economic growth, create jobs, and lower the cost of consumer products. It shows bipartisan support for the principle that reducing taxes on imported goods helps American businesses and consumers alike. Promoting free trade and more international commerce means cutting barriers that hinder both imports and exports. Passage of this bill represents a positive step; however, to really jumpstart the economy and spur job creation, Congress has much more work to do.”
H.R. 4923 will reform the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill process, which has been halted since 2010 due to concerns about earmarks. The new process requires companies seeking tariff relief to petition the International Trade Commission (ITC) directly. The ITC, in turn, would make recommendations to Congress on who should be removed, but not added to the list. In addition, similarly to other regulatory actions, comments regarding the petitions will be available online on the Federal Register, increasing transparency. These procedural revisions should alleviate past concerns about earmarking.