Prepared Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
Thursday, November 7, 2019
Thank you for inviting me here today. I appreciate the opportunity to speak with the employees here at the International Trade Commission and help celebrate your annual awards day.
I especially appreciate the invite from Chairman Johanson. I’ve known him for quite a while. David was an excellent staffer for me on the Finance Committee and I’m glad he has continued his public service here at the commission. He’s told the Finance Committee at his confirmation hearing something that’s worth repeating: those charged with applying the law have to do it in a fair and objective manner – and make their decisions based on the facts. I wholeheartedly agree. So I have no doubt the Commission is in good hands under his leadership. However, I bet he had no idea how exciting trade would become when he came to the ITC. But if there is someone who likes challenges, it’s David.
Now the ITC plays a critical role in supporting U.S. trade policy. Since its creation in 1916 as the U.S. Tariff Commission, the people of this agency have consistently demonstrated professionalism and integrity in administering our trade laws and providing impartial analysis. I’m proud that reputation continues to this day.
The creation of the original tariff commission was supported by the many business people and their associations including the National Association of Manufactures, the Chamber of Commerce, and numerous others who wanted a group of professionals to review and handle trade policy.
Today, the ITC focuses on three core responsibilities: 1) adjudication; 2) research and analysis; and 3) maintaining the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. I understand that last year you all updated the tariff schedule thirteen times. Keeping that document up-to-date is very important for our importers and exporters.
Earlier this year, you finished the congressionally mandated analysis of the USMCA. I know this was a significant undertaking and that it required a lot of time and work. As the Chairman of the Finance Committee, I can assure you it is necessary for congress to have credible, independent trade analysis when considering the merits of a trade agreement.
In the 382 page report, you concluded that the USMCA would have a positive impact on the U.S. economy. In most of my speeches these days, this is the point where I typically read off the highlights of that report for everyone in the audience, but since you all wrote it, I assume I can skip that part and just say to you, well done. The analysis is rigorous, and has been an important resource in explaining USMCA’s benefits.
I assume everyone here knows and accepts this, but free and fair trade is essential to the global economy. Supply chains are more globally integrated now than they have ever been. By the same token, voters have become more skeptical of trade because some of our trading partners seem to be playing by a different set of rules. The ITC plays an important role in addressing that problem through its reports and trade remedy work.
Applying trade remedy laws objectively is particularly important. There are workers and businesses that have legitimate grievances with unfair trade, and there are also interests that view U.S. trade laws as a means to prevent competition. That is why I am glad we have hardworking professionals at the ITC to ensure our laws are applied consistent with congressional intent. .
I have to say though, it’s quite impressive what the USITC accomplishes. This is a small agency with a great deal of important work to do. And the impact of your work reverberates throughout our economy and touches everyone’s daily life, whether they recognize it or not.
In fiscal year 2018, the ITC conducted a record number of Section 337 investigations, completed two Section 201 Safeguard Investigations, completed eight major economic and industry reports, reviewed 3,162 Miscellaneous Tariff Bill petitions and provided unparalleled technical assistance to those of us on Capitol Hill who write our trade laws and do oversight.
It is also worth noting that the agency consistently ranks as one of the greatest places to work in the federal government.
So again, I’d like to say thank you for all the good work you do. The ITC has done a fine job of making impartial determinations and providing Congress and the American people with independent analysis. Your work is as critical as it has ever been. It’s particularly important for folks like me. For me, I like my trade like I like my corn yields – robust.
Thanks again for inviting me here today, and I think I have time for one or two questions if you have anything you would like to ask.