Current rules allow companies that require products from overseas to obtain tariff relief. Congress has regularly passed a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill ("MTB") consisting of hundreds of tariff reductions for such products. In order to have a tariff reduction provision included in the MTB companies must first find a member of Congress to sponsor the provision. Only when a provision has been introduced as a stand-alone bill can it be sent to the International Trade Commission ("ITC"). The ITC then reviews all provisions, and often finds that some of these un-vetted bills actually hurt U.S. manufacturers. The provisions that meet standards are bundled into a package that becomes the MTB.
Portman and McCaskill’s legislation is intended to streamline the process for duty-suspensions by allowing companies to submit their proposals directly to the ITC. Once the ITC reviews and accepts the proposal, it will be sent to Congress for final approval. The bill authorizes the new process to be used for three rounds (2013, 2015, and 2018). While it requires a comprehensive review by the ITC of all possible eligible items in 2015 and 2018, an exception is included for the 2013 round so that it can be completed under a truncated timeline.
The bill is available online at http://www.mccaskill.senate.gov/2013MTBLegislation.pdf.