Shaheen, Moran Call on Commerce Secretary & U.S. Trade Representative to Explain How Administration is Helping Small Businesses Impacted by Tariffs on U.S. Trading Partners

October 09, 2018

(Washington, DC) –  Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Jerry Moran (R-KS), the Lead Democrat and Republican of the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee, sent letters to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, requesting additional information from the administration regarding efforts to help small businesses affected by tariffs on U.S. trading partners. 

The Senators wrote, “In addition to disrupting costs, supply chains and markets, the Administration’s tariffs have added new red tape and bureaucratic processes that small businesses have been forced to navigate. Unlike large corporations, most small businesses do not have the time or resources to devote to reading the Federal Register, understanding the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States and making the case to federal agencies that their products should be exempt.” 

The Senators continued, “While we recognize the need to rein in unfair trade practices, we have concerns with the Administration’s approach to imposing tariffs, especially on our allies. We hope to work with you to make any exclusion process and tariff impacts as painless as possible for small businesses and are eager to learn what steps the Department/your agency has taken to address these concerns.” 

The Senators closed their letters with specific questions for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the Department of Commerce to answer regarding how they’re engaging with small businesses about tariffs and processes for filing exclusion requests, efforts to work with the Small Business Administration to provide assistance to small businesses, and outreach that the Department and agency have done to help those impacted by the tariffs.

The letters can be read in full here and here. 

In July, Shaheen questioned Lighthizer on the administration’s plans to help small businesses that have been negatively affected by the trade war – he responded, “Not at this time, no.” 

Senator Shaheen is strongly opposed to the administration’s tariff policy, which has escalated a trade war with China, as well as critical U.S. allies and New Hampshire trading partners, Canada in particular. Just last month, Senator Shaheen questioned top Trump officials during a hearing on the President’s trade war and its damaging impact on the New Hampshire economy. In response to tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on key allies and trading partners, Shaheen sponsored bipartisan legislation to require congressional approval of tariffs. Shaheen, a member of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, has also called on the Small Business Administration (SBA) to investigate the impact of the Trump administration’s tariff policies on American small businesses, and sent a letter to President Trump urging him to reconsider his tariff plan. Senator Shaheen has met with small businesses across New Hampshire about the fall out that’s been felt in the Granite State from the administration’s ongoing trade war.

As chairman of the CJS Appropriations Subcommittee, Sen. Moran has actively engaged administration officials on the topic of trade and tariffs. Last month, Sen. Moran convened a hearing in his CJS Appropriations Subcommittee, where he questioned trade officials on these practices and policies as they relate to Kansas farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and small business owners. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. Moran has also questioned Sec. Ross on the administration’s trade and tariff strategy in public hearings, and has met with the secretary privately to discuss these matters, as well as NAFTA renegotiation tactics. Sen. Moran has been a vocal opponent of a back-and-forth trade dispute with China, and has consistently advocated for the rollback of retaliatory tariffs, instead of short-term relief measures to help Kansas farmers and businesses offset losses from the ongoing global trade dispute. Sen. Moran introduced bipartisan legislation to suspend import taxes on uncoated groundwood paper while the Department of Commerce examines the health of – and the effects on – the printing and publishing industry, and is also a cosponsor of bipartisan legislation that would require congressional approval before a president could adjust imports or implement tariffs.