Legislative Update: Elections Delay Action on Trade Legislation
September 21, 2012
With the window of time quickly closing for Congress to pass legislation before breaking to focus on election campaigns, trade legislation is likely to be put off until after the November elections and many trade measures may not see movement until next January.
While legislation repealing the Jackson-Vanik Amendment and Granting Russia and Moldova Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) status was approved by the Senate Finance Committee on July 18, 2012, and by the House Ways and Means Committee on July 26, 2012, the full House and Senate have yet to vote on the measure. U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk continues to urge lawmakers to pass PNTR legislation, which would allow U.S. companies to take full advantage of Russia’s August 22nd World Trade Organization (WTO) accession. Kirk has expressed hopes that Congress may take up the legislation after the November 6 elections.
The House Ways and Means Committee continues to work on developing U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reauthorization legislation. Industry groups are pressing for the legislation to address issues such as drawback modernization, funding for ACE, creating a prospective system for antidumping and countervailing duties, and alterations to certain broker regulations.
Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB)
While both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee have conducted reviews of MTB submissions, neither chamber has taken a vote on MTB legislation. MTB legislation would provide temporary duty suspensions or duty reductions on certain imports. Progress on the MTB has been hampered by House Republicans labeling the legislation as an earmark. Additionally, in June, Senators McCaskill (D-MO) and Portman (R-OH) introduced a bill aiming to restructure the MTB process by providing for interested parties to submit MTB requests to the International Trade Commission instead of directly to Members of Congress. In July, the Senate Finance Committee rejected an amendment submitted by Senator Kyl (R-AZ) that also aimed to alter the MTB review process.
Duty Evasion Legislation
On September 10, 2012, the Enforcing Orders and Reducing Customs Evasion Act of 2012 (S.3524), was placed on the Senate calendar. The bill outlines procedures and creates deadlines for Customs and Border Protection to follow when addressing allegations of antidumping or countervailing duty evasion.
Citrus Trust Fund
On July 18, 2012, the Senate Finance Committee approved legislation to create a Citrus Disease Research and Development Trust Fund, to renew and modify the Cotton Trust Fund, and to modify and extend the Wool Apparel Manufacturers Trust Fund. Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) added legislation addressing these funds to the Senate calendar earlier this week (S.3568).
For further information regarding these legislative efforts, please continue to visit www.barnesrichardson.com or contact a Barnes/Richardson attorney.