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Pascrell Lauds Passage of Tariff Legislation

Bill will strengthen New Jersey and American manufacturers

Today, U.S. Representative Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), the Ranking Member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, cheered the passage of H.R. 4318, the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill of 2018, which would strengthen the competitiveness of American manufacturers. Pascrell also called into question the conflicting Republican trade policies highlighted by this bill.  

A transcript of Rep. Pascrell’s prepared remarks in support of the legislation on the floor of the House of Representatives is provided below:

“Madame Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

“Madame Speaker, for decades, the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill has had longstanding and broad bipartisan support in both Chambers of Congress. It has been used as a means to bolster U.S. manufacturing and competitiveness by temporarily reducing or suspending tariffs on certain imported goods and components.

“I co-sponsored this bill when it was introduced last November and I supported it when we considered it on the floor earlier this year on January 16.

“The MTB returns to the House today for consideration of amendments made by the Senate on July 26.

“As the House takes up the MTB again today, I intend to support this bill, as amended, again. This is because I have always supported and will always support American manufacturers and I will do everything I can to boost their ability to compete.

“My home state of New Jersey will benefit greatly from the program, with firms projected to save more than $100 million over the course of the 3-year program. From chemicals to textiles, our state’s industries will benefit.

“New Jersey’s largest industry is chemical manufacturing, employing directly or indirectly over 100,000 jobs, and several of those firms will receive tariff relief from numerous imported chemicals that I dare not try to pronounce.

“And I can’t overlook the relief given to little green pepperoncini, for those subs and pizzas we all enjoy.

“But today’s vote raises important questions about the chaotic approach to trade from this President and my Republican colleagues’ unwillingness to challenge them.

“Since the passage of the MTB in January, the Trump Administration has imposed tariffs on up to $47 billion of steel and aluminum imports from around the world and $50 billion of imported goods of all kinds from China. 

“The Administration is now in the final week of a public comment process to determine $200 billion of additional imports from China that it intends to subject to tariffs.

“The Administration can and should take strong measures to make China accountable for cheating our global trade system and ripping off American companies and workers.

“What is confusing right now is the fact that, while the Administration continues to move forward with tariffs that will cover nearly half of all imported products from China, the MTB will reduce or remove tariffs on many of the same products.

“For the $50 billion in Chinese imports currently subject to Section 301 tariffs, there are up to 150 products that are covered by today’s bill.

“For the list of proposed goods valued at $200 billion in Chinese imports that the Administration is currently considering subjecting to additional tariffs, the overlap with today’s bill could be as high as one thousand products.

“Now, it is true that the MTB reduces or suspends tariffs on products imported from any and all countries – not just China. 

“But let me remind everyone of this: while the Trump Administration has been imposing tariffs, our trading partners have been responding in kind by hitting our U.S. exports with retaliatory tariffs. As we consider suspending some 1600 tariffs on imports from China and other countries, I haven’t heard that any of those countries is about to reciprocate and do us any similar favors.

“Because the Administration is relying so heavily on the use of tariffs as a trade enforcement tool, the Majority’s push to move MTB, which reduces and suspends tariffs, with the minimal amount of process, seems like a concerted effort to contradict the Administration’s trade agenda. 

“So, how does the MTB fit with this Administration’s trade agenda?  I have been asking that question for months.

“Several months ago, the Administration reached out to the Ways and Means Subcommittee to express concerns with the MTB, especially as it will apply to import duties on goods from China, including finished goods.

“In response, I expressed my strong interest in working with the Administration to address or resolve those concerns. 

“In May, as the Administration turned up the heat on tariffs on China, I asked the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to convene a hearing with Administration representatives on these China trade policies.

“My Democratic colleagues and I were also open to marking up the MTB in Committee and considering the legislation under regular order. In no case did we find willing partners for engagement.

“Tomorrow, the Ways and Means Committee will hold a mark-up on my Resolution of Inquiry seeking information about this Administration’s tariffs policy, and I expect to revisit this question then.

“Today, I will support the Miscellaneous Tariff Bill, recognizing that we take this vote at the same time that this Administration’s trade policies feel extremely incoherent.

“I have also, with and on behalf of my fellow Democrats, extended every offer to work toward bringing coherence to these policies.

“To my Republican colleagues, the question I ask you is, what have you done?

“As we look to the future, I am committed to working to improve the MTB process and to pursuing a broader global economic strategy that supports U.S. workers and firms. Imposing or suspending tariffs is not enough. 

“We need trade policies that are strong, effective, and coherent.

“I reserve the balance of my time.”

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