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Reps. Kind, DelBene, and Sewell Push for Tariff Relief for Health Care System, Small Businesses, and Families Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

March 24, 2020
Press Release

Washington, DC—Today, House Committee on Ways and Means members Reps. Ron Kind, Suzan DelBene, and Terri Sewell sent a letter to United States Trade Representative (USTR) Ambassador Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross urging expedited processing of tariff exclusion requests and if warranted temporary suspension of tariffs on certain goods. Tariff relief will reduce disruptions for existing supply chains and provide economic relief for our country as we continue to face a health care supply shortage and a dramatic need to help companies ride out the economic crisis.

U.S. imports of Chinese medical products hit with 10 to 25 percent U.S. tariffs beginning in 2018 fell by 16 percent or nearly $200 million between 2017 and 2019.

The lawmakers wrote:

“For those companies already weakened by additional tariffs over the past two years, their ability to ride out this health and economic crisis is precarious. For families filling their pantries today but uncertain of their future employment, the tariffs are costly taxes. Tariff duties continue to threaten the economic well-being of families across the country and the viability of our health care, manufacturing, retail, and food sectors.  Tariffs will in certain circumstances only serve to weaken the ability of companies to make payroll and keep assembly lines running.”

“For more than two years, businesses and working families have been footing the bill for tariffs implemented in reckless trade wars. Now, these tariffs are impacting the ability for our health care workers to get the medical supplies they need to fight COVID-19,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “Now more than ever, we need relief from these burdensome taxes. I hope the Administration will hear our concerns and act to provide some temporary relief during this public health crisis." 

“In these uncertain times, I am concerned that the current high tariffs in place are putting additional financial stress on our families and small businesses,” said Rep. Suzan DelBene. “The Trump administration must prioritize providing immediate relief to those most affected by the current public health crisis by temporarily suspending tariffs to ease the economic burden on my constituents.”

“During the coronavirus crisis, we must use every tool available to reduce costs for Americans, stimulate the economy and strengthen supply chains,” Rep. Terri Sewell said. “Section 301 tariffs are costly for many Alabama farmers, manufacturers and consumers. I urge the Trump Administration to delay these tariffs until we have emerged from this crisis.”

Read the full letter here.

The Ways and Means Committee is the most powerful - and the oldest - committee in the House of Representatives. It has jurisdiction over tax measures, the management of public debt, trade and tariff laws, Social Security, Medicare, pensions, and many other economic growth measures.