DEFICIT REDUCTION ACT OF 2005
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Mr. DeWINE. Mr. President, the motion that I am offering today, with Senator Byrd's support, urges the Senate conferees on the reconciliation bill to oppose efforts by the House to eliminate current law, to eliminate the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act.
This act, which is current law, which Senator Byrd and I originally introduced in 1999 and which was signed into law in 2000, continues to play a very important role in defending American companies from the injuries that unfair trade causes to American workers.
Repealing this legislation would be a grievous mistake. Let there be no mistake about it, this is about jobs. This is about American jobs. This is about protecting and saving jobs all across our great country and in my home State of Ohio, as well as in 47 other States. This is about punishing illegal trade practices, and it is about giving something back to the victims.
The Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act is really very simple. We have heard a lot of talk about it. We have heard some criticism about it. But when you boil it down, it is very simple.
When foreign companies illegally violate our trade laws, they get punished. They get fined. What this act does is it takes those fines and gives them to the companies that were harmed instead of giving the money back to the U.S. Treasury. That is it. That is what it does. This compensation provides these injured companies and their workers with a remedy and helps them recover from the damage done by the illegal trade practices.
Without this financial compensation, companies would continue to get hurt, jobs would continue to be lost, and that would be the end of the story. When we passed this bill a few years ago, we began to change that.
The truth is these foreign violators of the law--and that is what they are, they are violators of the law--think that this is just a cost of doing business, and they continue to do it. That is why we labeled this bill the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act. The point is they continue to do it. They look at the penalties they pay as a cost of doing business.
The idea behind this act when we passed it was we were not going to let them continue to get away with that and look at this as a cost of doing business. So instead of taking this money and giving it to the U.S. Treasury and letting them go merrily on their way, we would take this money and give it to the affected companies so these U.S. companies who employ U.S. workers could then take that money and invest it back into those companies, invest it for U.S. workers. That is what they have to do by law. And it has worked.
After the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act was implemented a few years ago, the disbursement reports have demonstrated the full extent of the dumping and the unfair trade problems our country faces. Let me give an example.
In 2004, no less than 458 companies received funds through this act. That means 458 of them were violated, had been abused. Across the United States, more than 700 producers in 48 States have received distributions from duties collected under our trade laws under this act which tells us that nearly every State in the United States of America is affected by unfair trade. Virtually every Senator in this body represents a State that has been helped by this law.
These recipients range from large, medium, small companies to family-owned businesses, independent workers, farmers, and fishermen. In my home State of Ohio alone, over 35 companies have benefited from the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act, including businesses in Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Youngstown, Warren, and Wooster.
The financial distributions have allowed businesses to reinvest in their operations, train workers, provide health care and pension programs, and keep high-wage, high-skilled jobs in our country. It matters. It is important.
Despite the many benefits that the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act has given our economy, some opponents argue that we must repeal it. Why? They say we must repeal it to comply with the WTO's rulings against the law. We must follow what the WTO tells this Congress to do, tells this country what to do. I disagree.
There is no reason the United States should abandon this law as an effective tool in trade talks. Why should we give it up? Like my friend and colleague, Senator Craig, said on this floor yesterday, there is nothing in any WTO ruling that tells countries what to do with the proceeds from the fines collected from illegal trade practices. We never agreed to that. The United States never entered into any agreement where we said we couldn't do this.
Why are we letting the WTO tell us these fines can't go back to the true victims, can't go back to the companies and the employees, can't go back to the people who have been hurt by foreign companies' dumping practices?
I find it somewhat ironic that some of the people who want to repeal this law that has worked so well are some of my same colleagues who come to the floor and talk about and criticize activist judges in the United States. We do not like activist judges in the United States. We do not like judges who dream up laws, who go beyond the letter of the law, who go beyond what Congress has written. Why do we want then to follow the WTO when the WTO goes well beyond any agreement this country has entered into? Why do we want to follow them down the road when they have been creative, when they have been activists? Why do we want to follow the logic that says we have to follow them? It makes no sense. They are the ones who are being the activist judges, so to speak. We should not do it.
The Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act enjoys broad bipartisan support in this Chamber because Members know that the act has provided a lifeline to thousands of manufacturers, farmers, and fishermen throughout our Nation, people who have faced aggressive, unfair trade practices on the part of foreign producers.
Over the past couple of years, at least 71 other Senators currently serving in this body have joined me in opposing the act's repeal. Today--and tomorrow when we vote on it--we need to reiterate that support and to vote to build upon our past successes.
Unless our laws work to encourage all competitors to play by the rules, it is more difficult for U.S. producers to regain a declining market share and it makes it impossible to restore jobs that have been lost. The Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act is simply good public policy. It helps ensure that our domestic producers can compete freely and fairly in global markets. I strongly urge my colleagues to oppose its repeal.
I conclude by one additional comment. I have heard people say that this act, this law, represents special interests. I am dumbfounded by that comment. When in the world did it become a special interest to protect American jobs? When is looking out for American workers a special interest? Are American workers a special interest group? Is making sure we have a level playing field in regard to trade practices a special interest? Are American workers a special interest group? I am dumbfounded by that comment. I do not understand it.
I am the strongest supporter in the world of free trade, fair trade, but to say that a law such as this that only goes into effect when it has already been proven that there has been a violation of trade laws, when it has already been proven that there has been illegal dumping, a law that only does the simple thing of compensating victims who have suffered by illegal dumping, and to say that is special interest legislation, I do not understand it. It makes absolutely no sense.
Seventy-one of my colleagues in this body who are currently serving have said this is not special interest, that standing up for American workers is the right thing to do. I hope the day never comes when Members of the Senate think that standing up for American workers is special interest. So I hope when this vote comes, probably tomorrow, we will do what we have every right to do, and that is to instruct the conferees on what the will of the Senate is.
I yield the floor.