|October 27, 2000
The Honorable Senator Trent Lott
Dear Senator Lott:
On behalf of the Consuming Industry Trade Action Coalition ("CITAC"), we urge you to take steps as a matter of the highest priority to rectify an enormous mistake made in the last few days of this Session of Congress. An amendment to U.S. trade laws by Senator Byrd will funnel millions of dollars into the pockets of a few companies and distort our functioning markets to the detriment of American businesses, large and small. This ill-considered provision would subsidize antidumping and countervailing duty litigation and would cause these cases to proliferate.
CITAC is a group of companies and associations representing America's consuming industries-those companies and workers that rely on open markets for their raw materials and components. Our members include major producers and distributors of automobiles, housing and commercial buildings, wire and wire products, electronic equipment, heavy machinery, tires, food processing equipment, clothing and textile products, oil and gas drilling equipment and services, and many other products.
The provision, known as the "Byrd Amendment" would take antidumping and countervailing duties collected by the U.S. Customs Service (and now treated, as they should be, as general revenues of the United States) and give the money to those companies and labor unions that were petitioners in those cases. This idea, which has surfaced several times in the last fifteen years, has been consistently rejected in the normal course of congressional consideration. However, Senator Byrd inserted the provision during the conference on the agriculture appropriations bill (even though the principal beneficiaries of this provision will be a few companies in the steel and bearings industries). While CBO has scored this provision at approximately $61 million, a review of information available to us reveals that the amount of money taken from the Treasury will be many times that amount.
It is a clear violation of U.S. obligations under NAFTA and the World Trade Organization. It should immediately be repealed before it subjects U.S. exporters to retaliation.
We also object to the manner in which this provision was inserted. The amendment circumvented standard congressional procedures and was adopted last minute, despite strong opposition by many members in both houses of Congress.
We ask you and the congressional leadership to work with us to rectify this very serious situation.
Jon E. Jenson, CAE