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Davis/Bost bill to strengthen trade enforcement rules passes House but contingent on TAA passage

From Illinois Business Journal news services

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, today announced his legislation to strengthen enforcement provisions against illegal trade practices such as the dumping of foreign products like steel into U.S. markets passed the House as part of a larger trade package. Davis introduced the American Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act along with U.S. Rep. Mike Bost, R-Murphysboro, last month.

In order for the measures to advance, the House must still pass Trade Adjustment Assistance, the so-called TAA measure that was the only part of the package that did not pass Friday. Davis voted for TAA but it didn’t have enough votes to pass on Friday. A spokeswoman for Davis said his office expects the TAA to be brought up for a re-vote next week. Upon passage, it would still have to go to the Senate. The measure is strongly supported by the president, but opposed by many Congressional Democrats.

TAA is a federal program of the United States government to act as a way to reduce the impact of imports felt by certain sectors. The current structure features four components of Trade Adjustment Assistance, for workers, firms, farmers and communities. The program for workers is the largest.

“Workers in my district need to know we’re fighting for them,” said Davis. “The trade bills passed in the House today protect workers by holding foreign competitors who break the rules accountable and by requiring transparent trade agreements that follow 150 specific objectives set by Congress, not the president. There is absolutely no doubt that trade supports American jobs, nearly 300,000 in Illinois alone, and this trade package allows Congress to set the rules so that only a fair deal with enforceable trade provisions can be negotiated for the American people.”

Davis spoke in support of his bill on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives during today’s debate.

The American Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act has the support of the steel manufacturing industry, United Steel Workers, and local economic development groups.

“I am personally grateful to Congressman Davis for his tenacious advocacy on behalf of our industry’s Trade Remedies provision,” said Mario Longhi, president and CEO of the United States Steel Corporation. “We need to break this unsustainable cycle of unfair trade and its starts with reforming our trade laws. This corrective language clarifies the injury standard and provides procedural support in dumping and countervailing duty cases and would move us closer to restoring the original intent of Congress when these laws were passed.”

“It is absolutely critical that our nation’s trade laws are able to confront the realities of global trade,” said Phillip K. Bell, President of the Steel Manufacturers Association. “Without effective, efficient remedies, the U.S. steel industry will continue to lose jobs as it is subjected to the unfair trade practices of some nations.”

“Our trade remedy laws are the only tool our industries and our workers can use to try to stem the tide – but we have to lose to win,” wrote Holly Hart, Assistant to the International President, in a letter to legislators on behalf of the United Steel Workers. “The trade enforcement provisions included in the American Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act are critical to ensuring the Department of Commerce can effectively review trade petitions and updates the injury standard used by the International Trade Commission’ to reflect today’s challenges.”

“I commend Congressmen Davis and Bost for the work they have done on behalf of the steelworkers of Madison County,” said Frank Miles, Economic Development Director for Madison County. “This bill will work to preserve the quality steel jobs in the county and ensure a secure future for the county’s steel suppliers.”

“We appreciate Congressman Davis’ support for the many large and smaller steel manufacturers in Southwestern Illinois which are critical to our economic success,” said Ellen Krohne, executive director of the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois.

For his part, Bost said he knows American businesses and their workers “can outperform anyone in the world, and that opening new markets for American exports is critical to their success. … However, we also need to ensure safeguards are in place when other nations fail to play be the same rules we do.

“The package of bipartisan bills we passed today includes legislation I introduced to strengthen our trade remedy laws, and that’s a win for the steel industry in Southern Illinois and other industries that suffer the consequences of illegal foreign trade practices. Under our current trade remedy laws, American businesses must suffer significant – and often, permanent – harm before they can seek relief. That’s like waiting for your house to burn down before you’re allowed to contact the fire department. I’m proud the House joined me in restoring common sense to these laws.

“Trade is important to farmers and manufacturers, and this legislation will expand our markets, grow our economy and help put people to work. That’s a good thing for Illinois, where 1.7 million workers rely on trade for their employment,” Bost said.

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