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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.

The aide pointed out that the Senate GOP’s internal earmark ban for next year would bar not only traditional earmarks such as line-item appropriations, but also tax provisions and tariffs that would benefit an individual company.

Even the Senate’s earmark disclosure rules clearly define the tariff change Sessions is seeking as an earmark. For instance, the rules require the disclosure of any “congressionally directed spending items, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits.” Limited tariff benefits are specifically defined by Senate rules as “a provision modifying the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States in a manner that benefits 10 or fewer entities.”

Republican Senators have vilified Democrats over the past few days for proposing an omnibus spending bill for the rest of fiscal 2011 that contains more than 6,000 earmarks worth over $8 billion. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on the Senate floor Tuesday that “the majority has not learned the lessons of last month’s election. The American people could not have been more clear. They are tired of wasteful spending. They are tired of big government. They are tired of sweetheart deals for special interests.”

But Kazazian is unmoved by that argument.

“They talk about numbers, but we’re talking about lives,” he said.

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