DEFICIT REDUCTION ACT OF 2005--CONFERENCE REPORT -- (Senate - December 21, 2005)
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Mr. VITTER. Mr. President, I am pleased that we have passed the Deficit Reduction Act today. It is a good first step to curbing run away spending in our entitlement programs, and it provides essential Medicaid relief to hurricane victims in my state.
However, I am deeply concerned with the provision in the bill that repeals the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act, also known as the Byrd amendment. Many of my colleague and I signed a letter to the conferees urging that this repeal be excluded from the final bill. This important law helps counter unfair trade practices of other countries by using revenues from duties collected to compensate injured industries. In Louisiana, most of our seafood industries have been severely affected by illegal dumping from China and other nations, and the Byrd amendment is one of the few things that could effective help the families in these industries, who are now also reeling from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, to survive in their business and maintain our unique culture and way of life.
I have been very frustrated with the Commerce Department and the Customs Department efforts to comply with the Byrd amendment as it stands now. Commerce does not properly set the duty collection rates, and Customs is severely lax in collecting tariffs that are due. Seafood tariffs uncollected stand at over $200 million from China alone right now. As these tariffs are not collected as they should be, illegal dumping continues, and our seafood and other industries are not being paid what they are due under the law.
This bill supposedly has a phase out of CDSOA for 2 years, in which pending cases are supposed to be paid. I fear with the current record of collections and distribution, this 2 year phaseout won't give much relief. I do not feel that this phaseout is adequate, and the repeal this important law should not have been included in this bill. It is not right to use industries that are victims of illegal trade practices to carry a large burden of balancing the budget.
I urge my colleagues to help me force the bureaucrats to do their work, collect these tariffs, and make the already due payments under the Byrd amendment. While the law may be unwisely repealed in this bill, the previously due payment should be paid and paid quickly.