Congressman Pete Visclosky

Representing the 1st District of Indiana

Congressional Steel Caucus Calls on Ways and Means To Enact Customs Bill

Nov 30, 2015
Press Release
Bipartisan Group of 40 Lawmakers Encourages Committee to Protect American Steelworkers

Washington, DC – Congressional Steel Caucus Chairman Tim Murphy, Vice Chairman Pete Visclosky, and 38 other Members of the bipartisan Congressional Steel Caucus today sent a letter to the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee, urging that the Committee work with its Senate counterparts and make the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (H.R.644) a priority as Congress returns from the Thanksgiving holiday break. 

Detailed in the letter, the bipartisan lawmakers state that maintaining strong trade laws and vigorous enforcement of laws are critical elements for a strong domestic steel industry, noting how American steelworkers are under attack every day from illegal imports. They request the Committee to conference and complete the enactment of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, which contains provisions that would ensure that antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) duties are being accurately assessed and collected at the border, as soon as possible. Earlier this year, the Congressional Steel Caucus spearheaded passage of legislation concerning antidumping and countervailing duty laws that was signed into law on June 29th. 

Congressman Tim Murphy Chairman, Congressional Steel Caucus, stated, “We achieved historic success in the House with trade remedy language earlier this year, but we can’t rest on our laurels. The Congressional Steel Caucus is working to ensure strong enforcement standards remain in the final conference report.” 

Vice Chairman Visclosky stated, “Illegal steel imports are decimating the American steel industry and it is imperative that we have the strongest tools and resources to fight back.  Legislation to update Customs and Border Protection processes and authorities is essential to defending American steelworkers and combating illegal trade. I hope the House Ways and Means Committee and Congressional leadership heed the call of the Congressional Steel Caucus to see that this legislation is completed as soon as possible.”

Below is a text of the letter and a PDF of the signed version.

Chairman Kevin Brady
House Ways and Means Committee
1102 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Ranking Member Sander Levin
House Ways and Means Committee
1106 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Brady and Ranking Member Levin:

We write today as members of the Congressional Steel Caucus to thank you for your support of the domestic steel industry, and for your partnership over the past year that resulted in legislative language, critically important to the domestic steel industry, being included in the Trade Preferences Extension Act (H.R.1295) that was signed into law on June 29th. Thanks to your leadership, the domestic steel industry is better able to compete on a level playing field with foreign competitors who are determined to evade our trade laws. We encourage you to continue your commitment to these producers and workers by making the bicameral conference and completion of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act one of your first priorities under the new House Ways and Means Leadership.    

One of the critical elements to ensuring that trade remedy laws are ultimately effective is to ensure that the antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) duties that result from trade cases are accurately assessed and collected at the border. Solicitations from firms trying to evade U.S. AD/CVD orders continue to surface at increasing and alarming levels, and yet there is no transparent process at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) whereby the domestic industry can seek timely relief from this activity. Provisions in Title IV of the Senate Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (H.R. 644) will provide for such a process at CBP and ensure that the laws against unfair trade are being enforced and the correct amount of duties are being collected. These reforms, collectively known as the ENFORCE Act, are essential to ensure that U.S. producers, who have been injured by unfairly traded imports, receive the benefit of the remedy provided by law.

Specifically, we support including the following key elements to address the circumvention and evasion of AD/CVD orders in the final conference report:

Enhancing CBP Tools - CBP needs to be identified as the lead agency to conduct evasion investigations. CBP is the entity charged with collecting AD and CVD duties at the border and enforcing all other tariff and border issues.  

Time-Limited InvestigationsCongress must require CBP to initiate, investigate, and make determinations on allegations of evasion within one year so that the problem of evasion can be reviewed carefully and in a timely manner. Already, domestic industries often spend more than a year bringing the original AD or CVD case through the U.S. Department of Commerce and U.S. International Trade Commission. 

Judicial Review - CBP’s decisions on evasion allegations must also be appealable to the Court of International Trade.  Judicial review is a common feature in customs trade classifications and trade remedy actions, and it aims to ensure that U.S. government agencies are accountable and that processes are consistent with statutory requirements. If judicial review is not provided with respect to evasion determinations, domestic manufacturing industries are denied any opportunity to ensure that CBP acted appropriately and in accordance with law. Yet importers, who would have existing rights to judicial review if they disagree with CBP’s classification of imports, would be provided greater legal rights than our own domestic manufacturers that have already been found to be injured by unfairly traded imports.

No Opt-Out – The relief for U.S. producers must be prescriptive. Recent reports that negotiators are considering “opt-out” provisions, such as allowing CBP to suspend the ENFORCE procedure while other agencies investigate criminal or civil claims related to the same illegal merchandise, are alarming because they are effectively a loophole for CBP to continue failing to enforce the law.  ENFORCE simply creates an administrative review process, which should occur independent of other investigations.  Should CBP be given a new legal justification for opting out of its responsibilities, it would be a step back from current law.

Maintaining strong trade laws and the vigorous enforcement of those laws are critical elements for a strong domestic steel industry.  Steelworkers are under attack every day by illegal imports, and we must not delay to strengthen the range of available tools to combat the evasion of our trade remedy laws.  Therefore, we strongly encourage you to conference and complete the enactment of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Rep. Tim Murphy
Chairman, Congressional Steel Caucus

Rep. Peter Visclosky
Vice Chairman, Congressional Steel Caucus

Rep. Walter B. Jones

Rep. Marcy Kaptur

Rep. Sam Graves

Rep. Debbie Dingell

Rep. Brian Higgins

Rep. Gene Green

Rep. Gregg Harper

Rep. Mo Brooks

Rep. Tom Marino

Rep. Michael R. Turner

Rep. Richard Nolan

Rep. Bradley Byrne

Rep. David B. McKinley, P.E.

Rep. Pete Aguilar

Rep. Rick Crawford

Rep. Lou Barletta

Rep. David P. Joyce

Rep. Bob Gibbs

Rep. Richard Nugent

Rep. Sanford Bishop

Rep. Dan Lipinski

Rep. Mark Pocan

Rep. Mike Doyle

Rep. Betty McCollum

Rep. Dave Loebsack

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry

Rep. Tim Walberg

Rep. Bill Johnson

Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick

Rep. Mark Takai

Rep. Keith Rothfus

Rep. Todd Rokita

Rep. Dave Trott

Rep. Filemon Vela

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick

Rep. Tim Ryan

Rep. Mike Bishop

Rep. Tammy Duckworth

PDF iconENFORCE Letter to Chairman Kevin Brady and Ranking Member Sander Levin.pdf

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