Fincher, Fleischmann Seek Tariff Earmarks

Rep. Stephen Fincher and other freshman Republicans have touted the ban on congressional earmarks that passed after they took office last year as a step toward reducing wasteful government spending, reports the Gannett Washington bureau.
But Fincher, Tennessee Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, and 63 other first-term Republican lawmakers now stand accused of betraying that spirit of fiscal restraint by pushing for consideration of a tariff measure loaded with breaks for specific imports. Critics say such breaks qualify as earmarks.
The lawmakers signed an April 20 letter asking House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio to consider a measure that would suspend duties on certain imports unavailable in the U.S. in an effort to lower costs for domestic manufacturers.
“It is already 20 percent more expensive to manufacture in America relative to our major competitors,” the lawmakers wrote. “The way to build manufacturing in America and create high-paying jobs is to reduce those costs – not to raise them.”
Lawmakers must propose lowering tariffs on a specific import before April 30 for the proposal to be included in the overall tariff measure. Typically, lawmakers rely on recommendations from companies in their districts to decide which imports to favor – similar to how lawmakers chose local pet projects to fund before Congress banned earmarks last year.
House rules say a tariff suspension qualifies as an earmark if it benefits no more than 10 companies.
The freshmen who signed the letter said they don’t think such tariff breaks are earmarks because they benefit more than just one congressional district.
…Although more than two-thirds of Republican freshmen signed the letter, Tennessee Republican Reps. Diane Black and Scott DesJarlais didn’t.

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