Vivian C. Jones Specialist in International Trade and
importers often request that Members of Congress introduce bills seeking to
temporarily suspend or reduce tariffs on certain imports. The vast
majority of these bills address chemicals, raw materials, or other
components used as inputs in the manufacturing process. The rationale for these
requests, in general, is that they help domestic producers of the downstream
goods reduce costs, thus making their products more competitive. In turn,
these cost reductions may be passed on to the consumer.
In recent congressional practice, the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance
Committees, the committees of jurisdiction over tariffs, have combined
individual duty suspension bills and other technical trade provisions into
larger pieces of legislation known as miscellaneous trade (or tariff) bills
(MTBs). Before inclusion in an MTB, the individual legislative proposals introduced
by Members are reviewed by the trade subcommittee staff in each committee,
the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), and executive branch
agencies to ensure that they are noncontroversial (generally, that no
domestic producer, Member, or government agency objects), relatively
revenue-neutral (revenue loss due to the duty suspension of no more than
$500,000 per item), and are able to be administered by U.S. Customs and
Border Protection (CBP).
In the 111th Congress, the United States
Manufacturing Enhancement Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-227) was signed by the
President on August 11, 2010. As enacted, the law temporarily suspended or reduced
for three years (through December 31, 2012) duties on over 600 products, many
of which renewed duty suspensions or reductions that were already in
place. On December 15, 2010, H.R. 6517, a bill that, in part, proposed
duty suspensions on approximately 290 additional products, passed in the
House. Due to changes in the Senate version of the bill subsequently approved
in the House, the duty suspensions were dropped (became P.L. 111-344).
On January 1, 2012, Chairman Camp and Ranking Member Levin of the House Ways
and Means Committee, and Chairman Brady and Ranking Member McDermott of
the Trade Subcommittee introduced H.R. 6727, the “U.S. Job Creation and
Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2013.” The package was based on over
2,000 bills that were introduced in the House and Senate during the MTB
process that was conducted from March 30 to April 30, 2012. Since the bill was
not taken up in either the House or the Senate, MTB legislation could
continue to be a legislative issue in the 113th Congress.
On June 12, 2012, S. 3292, the Temporary Duty Suspension Process Act of 2012, a
bill seeking to require the USITC to recommend temporary duty suspensions
to Congress, was introduced. This bill is similar, but not identical, to
S. 1162 (the Removing Hurdles for American Manufacturers Act of 2011),
introduced on June 9, 2011.
This report discusses: first, the review process of duty suspension bills by
House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committee staff, the U.S.
International Trade Commission (USITC), and other relevant agencies;
second, MTB legislation debated in the past few Congresses; and third,
some details of the debate for MTB passage. Finally, MTB legislation considered
in Congress from 1983 to the present is summarized in Table A-1.
Date of Report: January 10, 2013
Number of Pages: 19 Order Number: RL33867 Price: $29.95
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