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Bipartisan Legislation Aims to Level the Playing Field for American Workers

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A new bill would create new enforcement tools to take on “repeat offenders and serial cheaters” of our nation’s trade laws. It’s a smart bill, and Congress should pass it.

Members of the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) team hit Capitol Hill on Thursday to urge Members of Congress to support brand new legislation designed to equip American workers and manufacturers with new trade tools to take on some of the worst trade offenders.

The legislation, titled Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0, was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) and in the House by Reps. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Frank Mrvan (D-Ind.) and Beth Van Duyne (R-Texas).

As its name suggests, the bill is a sequel to the original Leveling the Playing Field Act, which became law back in 2015. This time around, lawmakers are aiming to address some of the ways that repeat offenders take advantage of U.S. trade laws, including by moving production out of one country into another — all while continuing the same unlawful practices that led to trade enforcement action in the first place.

The 2.0 version would create a new type of anti-dumping/countervailing duty (AD/CVD) investigation, called a successive investigation, to make it easier for petitioners to bring new trade cases when repeat offenders shift production to another country. The bill also seeks to create expedited timelines for successive investigations, so petitioners don’t have to start from square one when offenders shift production to a new country to dodge U.S. trade enforcement.

In addition, the legislation also gives the Commerce Department new authority to consider government subsidies for companies operating in a third-party nation. This is important because China’s government is using its Belt and Road Initiative to provide massive subsidies to companies operating outside of China.

“China is always coming up with new ways to distort the global market, cheating Ohio companies out of business and Ohio workers out of jobs. Our bill will help the U.S. fight back with new, innovative tools, allowing us to crack down on repeat offenders and serial cheaters,” Brown said. “Ohioans can out-compete anyone – they just need a fair, level playing field.”

Added Young: “China has distorted the free market by dumping undervalued products and subsidizing industries, actions designed to harm American businesses and workers. This legislation will help level the playing field to ensure the United States can outcompete the Chinese Communist Party.”

New polling conducted for AAM by Morning Consult shows Americans strongly favor strengthening trade enforcement, with 87% of likely voters agreeing that the federal government should crack down on unfair trade.

In a sign of how bipartisan this issue is, there already are a slew of cosponsors from both parties signed onto the bill, including Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) — and that’s just in the Senate.

Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 also has the endorsement of labor and business, with both the United Steelworkers (USW) and the American Iron and Steel Institute backing the bill.  “Ensuring our trade enforcement regime works faster ensures that workers and companies can focus on making things in America,” said USW International President Tom Conway.

The steel industry in particular has been harmed by China’s unfair practices, and Johnson noted that China’s government “continues taking deliberate steps that are hurting American workers and our economy by dumping steel, aluminum, and other products on the global markets with no repercussions.”

“That must end,” he continued. “A robust domestic steel and aluminum industry is critical to creating American jobs, strengthening our economy, and protecting our national security.” 

Strengthening U.S. trade remedy laws is critical to addressing the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “manipulate the global market,” as well as “egregious and unfair trade practices,” Sewell added.

“We know that if American workers are given the opportunity to compete on a fair and level playing field, they will win on the world stage,” Sewell said.

The bill is also endorsed by our team here at the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

“Predatory industrial policies and unfair trade practices of other countries — ranging from China to even U.S. allies — are an everyday reality for U.S. manufacturers and their workers and present a broader existential danger to our free and rules-based market economy,” said Scott Paul, AAM’s president. “Action is urgently needed to enhance the process for U.S. companies and American workers seeking to combat unfair trade practices such as dumping, subsidies and circumvention.”

Paul noted that industrial policy like the Inflation Reduction Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and CHIPS and Science Act have led to $479 billion in factory investments since 2021, according to White House estimates. But we’ve seen past investments like this fail because they were undermined by China’s unfair trade practices.

That can’t happen again, Paul said. “Congress must pass the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 if it truly aims to re-establish the United States as a manufacturing superpower and reduce the country’s dependence on China,” he said.

You can help get the Leveling the Playing Field Act 2.0 signed into law. Click here to tell your Members of Congress to support the legislation.

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