Issue: Economy and Jobs

Walorski Raises New Questions About Tariff Exclusion Process

Walorski Raises New Questions About Tariff Exclusion Process

In Third Letter to Secretary Ross, Walorski Requests Explanation of Inconsistent Exclusion Decisions

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today sent a third letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross outlining her concerns that U.S. manufacturers and small businesses seeking relief from steel and aluminum tariffs are being treated unfairly. The Commerce Department has yet to respond to letters dated March 11 and April 30 of this year raising questions about the product exclusion process.

“In this and other correspondence, I have asked for explanations regarding decisions that, on their face, seem to run counter to the facts presented by both sides, usually to the detriment of the requester,” Congresswoman Walorski wrote. “I have also pointed out instances where it seems that the Department has bent or ignored its own regulations. These, too, are typically to the detriment of the requester. Looking at the numerous examples across the three letters, it is difficult not to believe that there is a finger on the scale favoring objectors. Unfortunately, the Department has done little to dispel this notion, either.”

A copy of the letter can be found here. Additional supporting information is available here.

Walorski has repeatedly pressed the Commerce Department to fix problems faced by businesses requesting relief from Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs. American businesses can request the exclusion of a product from tariffs if the product is not available domestically in sufficient quantity or quality.

In response to concerns raised by Walorski last year, the Department adopted several changes, including the creation of a rebuttal and surrebuttal process. In February 2019, the Department began releasing decisions for exclusion requests that went through that process. According to statistics compiled by Walorski’s office, as of October 10 the Department has released 11,501 steel and 621 aluminum decisions in which it made a clear determination as to the domestic availability of the product. Of those, 1,919 and 175 respectively were approved, resulting in 16.69 percent and 28.18 percent rates of approval.

Concerns and questions raised by Walorski in the latest letter include:

  • Due to technical issues, it has been impossible to download any data from the new online portal for the Section 232 exclusion process since it went live in June 2019.
  • As of October 10, more than 500 requests have been posted on regulations.gov for 365 days or more without a decision, including 18 that have been posted for 500 days or more.
  • Numerous objections were posted despite being submitted more than 30 days after the request was posted, as required by the Department’s regulations.
  • The Department has inconsistently enforced limits on the number of PDF files allowed when submitting supporting documentation.
  • The vast majority of objections made no effort to summarize capacity and utilization data, as required by the regulations.
  • The Department has denied thousands of requests where the objector failed to state what percentage of the amount requested the objector can manufacture “on a timely basis,” or provided answers of less than 100 percent or outside eight-week timeline defined in the Department’s regulations.
  • The Department has reached inconsistent decisions on 136 requests with similar fact patterns, each of which drew one objection that cited a facility that does not appear to have been restarted at the time as the location where the product can be manufactured.
  • The Department has reached inconsistent decisions, including numerous denials nearly a year after posting, on requests using a tariff code that was in some cases cited as nonexistent.
  • The Department has denied more than 7,500 requests for using the wrong tariff code, forcing the requester to start the process over with a new request. More than 1,000 such requests were posted for 200 days or more before being denied. Nearly 850 went through the rebuttal and surrebuttal process before the denial.
  • The Department has told companies that an exclusion from a quota only applies after the yearly quota is reached and that all imports (including by importers that have been granted an exclusion) count against the annual quota until it is exhausted. Because the quotas are administered on both an annual and a quarterly basis, the exclusion can only be used in the 4th Quarter of a year, as opposed to year-round.
  • The Department has denied some requests even though the only objection to each request was withdrawn before the denial.
  • The Department has reversed numerous approvals citing a “system error” without further explanation.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Applauds U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement

Walorski Applauds U.S.-Japan Trade Agreement

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today released the following statement after the U.S. and Japan announced an agreement on a new trade deal:

“I want to congratulate President Trump and his negotiating team on reaching this important agreement that will improve access to export markets for America’s farmers and ranchers. I’m also encouraged the deal will mean fewer barriers to digital trade and more certainty that costly auto tariffs will not threaten American jobs or raise prices for consumers.

“Today’s announcement sets the stage for a broader agreement with Japan that will benefit American manufacturers, farmers, workers, and families, and I look forward to working with the administration to continue growing our economy.”

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski, Murphy Introduce Bipartisan RV Floor Plan Tax Fix

Walorski, Murphy Introduce Bipartisan RV Floor Plan Tax Fix

Travel Trailer and Camper Tax Parity Act Would Restore Inventory Interest Deductibility for All Types of RVs

WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) today introduced the bipartisan Travel Trailer and Camper Tax Parity Act (H.R. 4349) to restore inventory financing interest deductibility for all types of RVs, including travel trailers and campers.

“Businesses across the country – including RV and trailer manufacturers in my district – are investing, expanding, and hiring more workers as a result of tax reform,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The Travel Trailer and Camper Tax Parity Act will fix an unintended consequence of one provision that’s putting certain RVs at a disadvantage. Technical corrections like this are a normal part of the process when Congress enacts major reforms like the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This bipartisan, commonsense RV floor plan tax fix will provide certainty for small businesses and manufacturers, and it will ensure the RV industry can fully unlock the benefits of tax reform and keep our nation’s economic momentum going.”

BACKGROUND

Under tax reform legislation signed into law in December 2017, a deduction for interest paid on RV dealer inventory inadvertently excluded non-motorized travel trailers. The House and Senate versions of tax reform legislation specifically intended to include towable RVs as motor vehicles, but the final version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) simplified the definition of motor vehicles.

As a result, the full tax exemption now only applies to RV motorhomes, putting the RV travel trailer industry at a disadvantage and forcing larger dealers to use different accounting rules for trailers and motorhomes. According to the RV Industry Association (RVIA), approximately 88 percent of RVs sold are travel trailers.

The Travel Trailer and Camper Tax Parity Act would restore the full deductibility of inventory financing interest for all types of RVs, including motorhomes, travel trailers, and campers, as originally intended by Congress.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Votes to Repeal Cadillac Tax; Seeks Vote on Medical Device Tax Repeal, Health Insurance Tax Delay

Walorski Votes to Repeal Cadillac Tax; Seeks Vote on Medical Device Tax Repeal, Health Insurance Tax Delay

Speaks on House Floor in Effort to Bring Bipartisan Bills to a Vote

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) on Wednesday voted to repeal the “Cadillac tax” and sought a House vote on bipartisan bills to repeal the medical device tax and delay the health insurance tax.

“Ending the Cadillac tax will provide important relief to both employers and employees, but this bill doesn’t include repealing other burdensome taxes like the medical device tax and the health insurance tax,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “It is critical that we repeal all three of these burdensome taxes before they go back into effect. Doing so will help lower premiums, improve access to care, and boost American manufacturing jobs.”

Video of Walorski speaking on the House floor is available here.

BACKGROUND

Walorski spoke in support of a procedural effort to amend the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act (H.R. 748) to include the Protect Medical Innovation Act (H.R. 2207) and the Health Insurance Tax Relief Act (H.R. 1398). The effort was defeated on a party-line vote.

H.R. 748, which would repeal Obamacare’s 40 percent “Cadillac tax” on certain employer-provided health plans, passed the House by a vote of 419 to 6.

H.R. 2207, which Walorski introduced in April, would lower the cost of life-saving medical devices and create jobs by repealing the 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device sales. The 2.3 percent excise tax on medical device sales took effect under Obamacare in 2013, but has been suspended since 2016.

H.R. 1398, which Walorski introduced in February, would stop Obamacare’s Health Insurance Tax (HIT) from going into effect until after 2021. According to America’s Health Insurance Plans, the HIT could increase premiums by over $470 per family in 2020 if not stopped.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski: It’s Time to Vote on USMCA

Walorski: It’s Time to Vote on USMCA

Calls for Approval of Modernized U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement Without Delay

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today called for a vote in Congress to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) without delay. Walorski’s comments came during a Ways and Means Committee hearing at which U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testified about the modernized trade agreement and other trade-related matters.

“This agreement will go a long way to drive exports for farmers and manufacturers in Indiana’s 2nd District,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “It sets a strong standard for the great innovators that call the Hoosier state home. And it levels the playing field for workers to ensure that we don’t lose jobs to unfair labor practices abroad. With the steel and aluminum tariffs lifted on Mexico and Canada, I think it’s time for Congress to act. It’s time to vote on the USMCA.”

Video of Walorski’s comments at the Full Committee Hearing on the 2019 Trade Policy Agenda is available here.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Leads Letter to USTR Calling for Automatic Renewal of China Tariff Relief

Walorski Leads Letter to USTR Calling for Automatic Renewal of China Tariff Relief

Bipartisan Letter Asks USTR to Inform Congress of Any Resources Needed to Implement List 3 Exclusion Process

WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.), along with Senators James Lankford (R-Okla.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), today sent a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer urging him to continue to grant tariff exemptions to products that previously received an exclusion until the tariffs are completely lifted.

“Allowing previously granted exclusions to expire automatically even though there is no change in circumstances would be a mistake,” the members wrote, “and we urge you to ensure that products granted an exemption continue to be exempted from tariff application under any list until the tariffs have been completely lifted. Doing so would benefit thousands of U.S. businesses and American families.”

The letter also requests that USTR inform Congress of any resources needed to fully implement the List 3 exclusion process. The members of Congress thanked Lighthizer for creating an exclusion process for List 3 and emphasized it is in the best interest of the nation to automatically renew product-wide exclusion granted under the List 1 and 2 exclusion process.

Earlier this year, Walorski and Kind introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Import Tax Relief Act, which would require the Executive Branch to create an exclusion process for List 3 (and any future list) of Chinese imports subject to Section 301 tariff imposition. In the Senate, a companion version was introduced by Lankford and Coons.

A signed copy of the letter is available here. The full text is below.

June 12, 2019

The Honorable Robert Lighthizer
United States Trade Representative
600 17th St, NW
Washington, DC 20508

Dear Ambassador Lighthizer:

Thank you for your continued engagement with Congress as your office works to resolve a number of outstanding trade issues.  Strong leadership and effective policy implementation are essential qualities for a successful resolution to these difficult and complex matters of paramount importance to our nation’s economy.

We want to thank you for your commitment to creating an exclusion process for List 3 of Chinese imports subject to tariffs imposed pursuant to section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.  An exclusion process for List 3 is one of the goals of the Import Tax Relief Act we introduced in February. We have talked at length about this, and I am glad that we agree that a clearly defined and executed exclusion process provides needed relief to U.S. importers who are unduly burdened by the tariffs, the costs of which are passed on to American consumers.

As we near the one-year mark of the application of tariffs on Chinese imports included on Lists 1 and 2, we anticipate your office will see the value in automatically granting renewed exclusions for products which had already received an exclusion.  Allowing previously granted exclusions to expire automatically even though there is no change in circumstances would be a mistake, and we urge you to ensure that products granted an exemption continue to be exempted from tariff application under any list until the tariffs have been completely lifted.  Doing so would benefit thousands of U.S. businesses and American families.

Finally, because List 3 is substantially larger than Lists 1 and 2 combined, we are concerned about the timely processing of exclusion applications under this process.  Please communicate to us whether USTR requires additional resources from Congress in order to effectively implement this process. Furthermore, we advise that List 3 exclusions granted should include relief retroactive to September 2018, when the initial tariff was imposed.

It is important the US stand up to Chinese mercantilism, but ever-escalating tariffs threaten our nation’s long-term economic stability.  You and President Trump have been clear from the beginning that the tariffs on Chinese imports were imposed in order to bring China to the negotiating table and come to a deal.  We urge you to keep negotiating. Find a resolution that holds China accountable without continuing to harm American consumers and businesses.

Thank you again for your attention and prompt response to this matter.

Sincerely,

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Votes to Help Families Save for Retirement

Walorski Votes to Help Families Save for Retirement

House Passes Bipartisan Legislation to Help Workers and Small Businesses Save More and Earlier for Retirement

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today voted for bipartisan legislation to make it easier for small businesses to set up retirement plans for employees and help workers save more and earlier for retirement. The House passed H.R. 1994, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019, by a vote of 417 to 3.

“Workers are more likely to save for retirement if their employer offers a retirement plan, but small businesses face significant hurdles to making these plans available,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The bipartisan SECURE Act will make it easier for small businesses to offer retirement plans so workers can start saving earlier and save more for their future. It’s disappointing that partisan politics got in the way of including a key provision to help families pay for the costs of homeschooling, but I’m hopeful we can continue building on the reforms in this bill to help Hoosier families thrive.”

BACKGROUND

The SECURE Act, which builds on reforms Republicans passed twice in the 115th Congress, would:

  • Make it easier for small businesses to set up retirement plans for their employees;
  • Gives employers the flexibility to tailor retirement plans to best fit the needs of their employees;
  • Allows Americans to save longer by removing the age limit for contributing to IRAs, and increases the minimum age for required withdrawals from 70.5 to 72;
  • Encourages younger Americans to save earlier;
  • Allows families to take penalty-free withdrawals from their retirement accounts for the birth or adoption of a child;
  • Fixes a technical error in order to lower taxes for Gold Star families.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Statement on Removal of Steel and Aluminum Tariffs on Canada and Mexico

Walorski Statement on Removal of Steel and Aluminum Tariffs on Canada and Mexico

Trump Administration Announces Agreement to Lift Section 232 Tariffs and Retaliatory Measures, Paving Way for USMCA

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), who has led the charge for relief from Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs and retaliatory measures, today released the following statement after the Trump administration announced an agreement with Canada and Mexico to remove the tariffs and retaliation:

“This is great news for American manufacturers, farmers, workers, and families. The agreement with Canada and Mexico to lift steel and aluminum tariffs and retaliation without quotas will allow the U.S. to better target China’s unfair trade practices and pave the way for the USMCA.

“I’m grateful to President Trump and Ambassador Lighthizer for fulfilling their pledge to resolve this issue so we can move full steam ahead on a modernized trade agreement with two of our closest trading partners. I look forward to working together to finalize a great deal for the American people.”

BACKGROUND

Walorski has repeatedly urged the Trump administration to reach an agreement with Canada and Mexico to remove steel and aluminum tariffs and retaliatory measures. In December, she led a bipartisan letter signed by 13 members of the Ways and Means Committee asking U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to make resolving this issue a top priority. Tariffs and retaliation have harmed U.S. manufacturers and farmers, including many in Indiana’s 2nd District.

Walorski Statement on Removal of Steel and Aluminum Tariffs on Canada and Mexico 1

Congresswoman Walorski and Ambassador Lighthizer discussed tariffs and USMCA ahead of today’s announcement.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski Statement on Auto Tariff Delay

Walorski Statement on Auto Tariff Delay

Recently Led Bipartisan Warning Against Costly Tariffs on Cars and Auto Parts

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today released the following statement after the White House announced a six-month delay in deciding whether to impose Section 232 tariffs on automobiles and automotive parts:

“President Trump’s decision not to impose auto tariffs in the coming days comes as a relief to millions of American workers and families who would bear the cost of a massive tax hike on cars and auto parts. I support the president’s goal of ensuring a level playing field for U.S. businesses and workers, but auto tariffs would be devastating to manufacturers in my district and across Indiana that make cars, RVs, auto parts, and more. Moving forward, the administration should make the Section 232 national security investigation report public and should not take any action that would threaten our nation’s strong economic momentum.”

BACKGROUND

Walorski has repeatedly called on the Trump administration not to put American jobs and economic growth at risk with costly auto tariffs. Last week, Walorski led a bipartisan group of 159 members of Congress in urging Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow and President Trump not to impose auto tariffs.

In February, Walorski introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Trade Security Act, which would reassert Congressional authority over trade and tariff policy by reforming Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The bill would also redesignate national security threat assessments for Section 232 tariffs to the Department of Defense.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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Walorski, Lipinski, Kelly, Peterson Introduce Employee Flexibility Act

Walorski, Lipinski, Kelly, Peterson Introduce Employee Flexibility Act

Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill Would Restore Traditional 40-Hour Definition of Full-Time Employment Under Obamacare

WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), Mike Kelly (R-Pa.), and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) today introduced the Employee Flexibility Act (H.R. 2782), bipartisan legislation would provide relief to middle-income families by restoring the traditional 40-hour work week under the Affordable Care Act. Companion legislation was introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Todd Young (R-Ind.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.).

“The redefinition of full-time employment under Obamacare is hurting workers who want to earn more money by picking up extra hours or trading shifts, and it’s placing unnecessary burdens on our Main Street job creators,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The Employee Flexibility Act will bring relief to hardworking Hoosiers by ensuring they have flexibility in the hours they work each week. This bipartisan, commonsense bill will also give businesses the certainty they need to expand, invest in our communities, and create more jobs.”

“Most Americans will tell you that a full-time workweek is 40 hours, not 30,” Congressman Lipinski said. “Changing the law to keep middle class families from having to make the painful choice of being forced to live with less or finding another part-time job to make up the difference is just common sense. Thanks to Congresswoman Walorski and my colleagues for their leadership on this bipartisan bill.”

“Obamacare created a lot of problems for American workers, including its definition of full-time employment at 29 and a half hours,” Congressman Kelly said. “Employers are required to provide health insurance to employees who qualify as full time, so many workers employed by small businesses are having trouble picking up extra hours to make ends meet. The Employee Flexibility Act, of which I am a proud co-author, would restore the 40-hour work week to help workers and ease the burden on businesses!”

“This legislation restores the traditional definition of a full time job and would benefit employers who seek to have both full and part time employees,” Congressman Peterson said.

“We thank our own Congresswoman Jackie Walorski for her leadership on reestablishing the 40-hour workweek to help hard-working Hoosiers and Indiana small business community,” said Mark McDonnell, founder and CEO of LaSalle Hospitality Group. “Countless employees love restaurants because they offer flexible, part-time work. These employees may also be going to school, raising a family, or pursuing other aspirations. But current laws restrict a variable workforce and inhabit an employee’s ability to manage their own schedule. Additionally, most accounting systems weren’t designed to accommodate the two different full-time designations businesses must operate under. This makes administration a nightmare and the added costs affect restaurants’ hiring and expansion plans. We appreciate Rep. Walorski’s efforts to introduce and advance the bipartisan Employee Flexibility Act.”

“On behalf of Ben’s Soft Pretzels, a mission-driven organization with 76 bakeries in 10 states, we thank Representatives Jackie Walorski and Dan Lipinski for introducing the ‘Employee Flexibility Act,’” said Brian Krider, co-founder and COO of Ben’s soft Pretzels. “Our employees and the communities we serve are our greatest asset and we support federal legislation to expand both scheduling flexibility and opportunities for growth. We strongly support commonsense, bipartisan legislation to enact a 40-hour per week threshold to determine a full-time employee.”

BACKGROUND

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, requires employers with more than 50 full-time equivalent workers to offer health insurance to full-time employees or face a penalty. The law defines full-time status as 30 hours of work per week, significantly below the traditional standard of 40 hours, as defined under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Under the standard 40-hour definition of a work week, hourly employees had more flexibility to pick up hours or trade shifts with their co-workers. Since the implementation of the 30-hour threshold, variable-hour and part-time employees have lost the flexibility to earn more money by adding or trading shifts.

The bipartisan, bicameral Employee Flexibility Act would provide flexibility to employees and relief to small businesses by changing the definition of a full-time employee under the ACA to 40 hours per week, putting it back in line with the widely-used traditional definition. The same legislation previously passed the House in 2014 and 2015.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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