December 9, 2022

Washington Wire: Congress Aims to Complete Competitiveness Bill Soon; Contact Your Legislators TODAY

06/27/2022

 

Congress Aims to Complete Competitiveness Bill Soon; Contact Your Legislators TODAY
 
Congressional negotiators are continuing to work to reconcile the two China-focused competition bills, the House's America COMPETES Act and the Senate's U.S. Innovation and Competition Act. House and Senate conferees are hashing out a compromise version of the two bills, which Democratic leaders have said they hope can be completed with a final bill delivered to President Biden before Congress leaves for their summer recess in August. 
 
The conference committee is moving slowly, however, and there are reports that a final bill could be narrowed to ensure its passage, by cutting provisions that can’t be reconciled. As the conference committee work is taking place in private, it is unclear what provisions, if any, could be removed from the bill to speed up passage. 
 
One Voice is continuing to urge lawmakers to include in the final bill the JOBS Act to allow Pell Grants for short-term training, provisions to inform students about the costs of student debt, and additional resources for apprenticeships. 
 
Please help this effort by sending a letter to your Senator or Representative and ask that any final bill targeting competition with China include the JOBS Act, the National Apprenticeship Act, and the College Transparency Act. 
 
Contact your members of Congress TODAY by clicking here and make your voice heard!

 

 

  
Shipping Reform Bill Signed into Law
 
President Biden has signed into law a bill to overhaul the regulations governing maritime shipping, boosting the investigatory authority of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC), the U.S. agency that oversees ocean shipping, and increasing industry transparency. The Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) of 2022 was approved 369-42 by the House of Representatives after passing unanimously in the Senate in March. Similar legislation passed the House in December.
 
It would allow FMC to launch probes of ocean common carriers' business practices and to apply enforcement measures. For example, the bill requires the FMC to (1) investigate complaints about detention and demurrage charges (i.e., late fees) charged by common ocean carriers, (2) determine whether those charges are reasonable, and (3) order refunds for unreasonable charges. It also prohibits common ocean carriers, marine terminal operators, or ocean transportation intermediaries from unreasonably refusing cargo space when available or resorting to other unfair or unjustly discriminatory methods.
 
In a statement on the Act, the Biden Administration said, “During the pandemic, ocean carriers increased their prices by as much as 1,000%. And, too often, these ocean carriers are refusing to take American exports back to Asia, leaving with empty containers instead. 
 
These oversight and enforcement tools will help the FMC eliminate unfair charges, prevent unreasonable denial of American exports, and crack down on other unfair practices harming American businesses and consumers.

 

 


 
EPA Staff Support Retaining Daily PM NAAQS Limits
 
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a final policy assessment (PA) on the reconsideration of federal limits for particulate matter (PM). In the final PA document, released May 31, EPA staff oppose the advice given by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) to tighten the daily federal limit. EPA staff says, “the available evidence supports the need for the current 24-hour standard to protect against peak concentrations but does not clearly support the need for a lower level of that standard.” The CASAC’s recommendation, issued in March, recommended the 24-hour fine particulate matter (PM2.5) standard be lowered to somewhere in the range of 25-30 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), down from the current level of 35 µg/m3.
 
EPA staff did, however, agree with the CASAC’s call to tighten the annual limit for PM2.5. EPA’s current annual primary exposure standard was set in 2012 at 12 ug/m3, and the PA suggests EPA could tighten it to a stricter value between 8 ug/m3 and 12 ug/m3. The majority of the CASAC recommended the annual limit be set somewhere in the range of 8-10 µg/m3, a minority calling for a range of 10-11 µg/m3.
 
The EPA plans to issue a proposal by this summer, with a final rule following by spring of next year that could impose limits on economic activity by manufacturers, producers, and other industries.

 

 

  
Administration Considering Removing Some China 301 Tariffs
 
President Biden has indicated that he is leaning towards removing tariffs on some products currently subjected to the China Section 301 tariffs. The administration is conducting a formal review process of the 301 tariffs with the termination date of the first wave of tariffs set to occur next month. 
 
Biden is considering whether to order USTR to conduct a robust exclusion process to consider which tariffs to remove. Many members of Congress and some administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, have called for the removal of at least some of the tariffs. Some have stepped up those calls as inflation has surged, arguing tariff cuts would help.
 
"The President is discussing with his team on ensuring that tariffs are aligned with our economic and strategic priorities, such as safeguarding the interests of workers and critical industries, advancing our national security, and not unnecessarily raising costs on Americans,” according to a White House spokesperson. 
 
However, some members of Congress and labor groups have called for the tariffs to remain in place. The Labor Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations last week sent a letter to USTR calling to maintain the Section 301 tariffs on Chinese products saying all of the tariffs should be extended in the interest of protecting workers from the negative effects of China's trade policy. The labor advisory committee advises USTR on policy matters related to trade's impact on workers. Its members include the leaders of prominent U.S. labor unions.
 
The full review of the tariffs is ongoing. 

 

 

  
Enforcement of the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act Begins
 
On Tuesday, June 21, 2022, the U.S. began enforcing the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. Under the rebuttable presumption clause of the UFLPA, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) now presumes goods made wholly or in part in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, or by an entity on the UFLPA Entity List, were made with forced labor and therefore are prohibited from entering the United States. The presumption also applies to goods made in, or shipped through, the PRC and other countries that include inputs made in Xinjiang.
 
The measure is meant to address reported human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region including forced labor in factories and on farms. Goods targeted by the new rules will be subject to a 30-day detention period, during which importers can -- if they choose -- request exceptions and provide documentation to show imports were not made with forced labor. Otherwise, CBP will ask the importers to send their shipments back. Goods with just a small percentage of inputs from the region could be detained and there is no "de minimis" exception.
 
All exceptions will require "clear and convincing evidence” that the goods were not produced with forced labor. The UFLPA also requires that importers demonstrate due diligence, effective supply chain tracing, and supply chain management measures to ensure that they do not import any goods made, in whole or in part, by forced labor, especially from the Xinjiang Region.
 
CBP issued letters to importers identified as having previously imported merchandise that may be subject to the UFLPA to encourage those importers to address any forced labor issues in their supply chains. However, if your company did not receive a letter, it does not mean that your supply chains are free from forced labor and the imported goods would not be subject to detention. CBP has released guidance for importers which includes resources to help companies to review their supply chains and put in place measures to ensure their imports are not produced with forced labor.
 
For additional information and resources on the UFLPA visit the interagency Forced Labor Enforcement Task Force at https://www.dhs.gov/forced-labor-enforcement-task-force