Tariff Modifications: Miscellaneous Duty Suspension Bills Page: 2 of 13
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Miscellaneous Duty Suspension Bills
Companies often propose that Members of Congress introduce bills seeking to
suspend or reduce tariffs on certain imports. The vast majority of these commodities
are chemicals, raw materials, or other components used in the manufacturing process.
The rationale for these requests, in general, is that they help producers reduce costs,
thus making their products more competitive. In turn, these cost reductions can be
passed on to the consumer.
In recent congressional practice, House Ways and Means and Senate Finance
Committees, the committees of jurisdiction over tariffs, have combined duty
suspension bills and other technical trade provisions into larger pieces of legislation
known as miscellaneous trade and technical corrections bills (MTBs). Before
inclusion in an MTB, individual legislative proposals are reviewed by trade
subcommittee staff and several executive branch agencies to ensure that they are
noncontroversial (generally, that no domestic producer objects) and relatively
revenue-neutral (revenue loss of no more than $500,000 per item).
In the 109th Congress, on December 8, 2006, the House passed H.R. 6406, a
trade package that included suspension of duties on about 380 products until
December 31, 2009, and pursuant to the rule (H.Res. 1100), inserted it into H.R.
6111, a previously House-passed tax extension package. The Senate approved H.R.
6111 on December 9, and it was signed by the President on December 20, 2006 (P.L.
109-432). Tariff suspensions on about 300 other products were previously approved
as inserted into H.R. 4, The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-280).
In the 110th Congress, congressional earmark reform legislation in both Houses
also seeks to target "limited tariff benefit[s]," defined as "a provision modifying the
Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States in a manner that benefits 10 or
fewer entities." On January 5, 2007, the House adopted earmark reform
parliamentary procedures upon its agreement to Title IV of H.Res. 6. The measure
would make it out of order to consider bills containing earmarks, limited tax benefits,
or limited tariff benefits unless certain reporting requirements are met by the
committee of jurisdiction and the Member proposing the legislation. The House
earmark reform procedures are now in effect because a simple resolution, such as
H.Res. 6, is only effective in the chamber that adopts it, and thus requires no further
On January 18, 2007, the Senate passed S. 1, the Legislative Transparency and
Accountability Act of 2007. This bill includes similar language describing limited
tariff benefits and reporting requirements, but it also proposes that the list of
earmarks and other benefits should be posted "on the Internet in a searchable format
to the general public for at least 48 hours before consideration of the bill or joint
resolution." Since the Senate version is in a bill, these measures cannot go into effect
until the House passes its version, both the House and Senate reach agreement on all
the provisions, and the bill becomes law. This report, which supercedes CRS Report
RS21406, will be updated as events warrant.
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Tariff Modifications: Miscellaneous Duty Suspension Bills, report, February 5, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc808347/m1/2/: accessed September 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.