Feb. 8, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Sessions Wants a Fix but Says It’s No Earmark

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Tom Williams/Roll Call
Sen. Jeff Sessions says he is trying to repair a loophole in federal tariff law that allows Bangladeshi sleeping bag manufacturers to undersell U.S. companies.

At which point, he says, “I’ll be vilified as that guy who moved offshore.”

While Exxel’s plight hasn’t gotten national headlines, it has certainly attracted the attention of Sessions, whom Kazazian lauds as standing up for American jobs. “The Superman here is Sen. Sessions,” Kazazian said.

Earlier this year, Sessions sought to include language in the renewal of the GSP to close the loophole and save Exxel’s Alabama plant, but he has been unable to reach an agreement with Democrats and Republicans, who are pushing to pass the bill as is.

After numerous proposals to address the situation, Sessions opted to place a hold on the bill, which at this late date in the session means the GSP is likely to lapse at the end of the year.

Sessions flatly denies the provision he is seeking is an earmark. His office claimed he is trying to undo an old earmark.

“Bangladesh gets to ship sleeping bags to America without paying a cent of taxes, and they get to use materials from China without paying a cent of taxes either,” Sessions spokesman Stephen Miller said Wednesday. “This outrageous earmark for Bangladesh is crushing America’s top sleeping bag manufacturer, Exxel, and threatening their workers’ jobs. 

“Sen. Sessions is trying to end that injustice, and eliminate that earmark, by ensuring that Bangladesh and China have to play by the same rules as everyone else in the world. He is fighting to close a gaping loophole in our trade laws so that companies in America are at least allowed to compete on the same playing field. We need to stop giving Bangladesh workers an earmark so we can give these Alabama workers a fighting chance. Or is the message we want to send this Christmas that we will keep this loophole in place, even as our nation struggles with crippling unemployment?”

But that argument isn’t sitting well with Democrats or Republicans. 

“Sen. Sessions is putting politics ahead of a remarkably successful program that supports more than 80,000 U.S. jobs and sustains economic growth and employment in Alabama and across the U.S. and the globe. Rather than working to sustain thousands of American jobs and small businesses — including many in Alabama — Sen. Sessions is looking to carve out protections for one single sleeping bag producer,” a Senate Democratic aide said.

A GOP aide agreed, arguing that, “You can call it whatever you’d like, but when you’re holding up legislation that effects a wide swath of the economy for a carve-out benefiting one company, it certainly doesn’t look good.”

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