Feb. 13, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Mike Fitzpatrick Tariff Bills to Benefit Donors

“Senator Casey introduced these bills to help level the playing field for Pennsylvania manufacturers. These companies face unfair global competition. ... This company is sustaining Pennsylvania jobs and the Senator wants to make sure they have the tools they need to grow and retain their workforce,” Casey spokeswoman April Mellody said in an email.

Regarding the donations to Fitzpatrick on March 30, Nowakowski said he and his wife did not actually attend a fundraiser held that day because of a church event. “My son represented us,” Nowakowski said, adding that “to the best of my knowledge,” his son did not discuss the tariff bills at the fundraiser.

The donations had nothing to do with Fitzpatrick proposing the bills, Nowakowski said.

Athan Koutsiouroumbas, Fitzpatrick’s chief of staff, said the bills are “about sustaining and creating jobs in the weakest economic recovery on record.”

“Any domestic competitor of the tariff exemption requestor can take advantage of the exemption. Furthermore, there is a public vetting process which allows companies that can produce the materials domestically to object to the tariff exemption,” Koutsiouroumbas said.

Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp is pushing for legislation that would incorporate many proposals like Fitzpatrick’s into a larger bill. The Michigan Republican has set off a debate within the Republican Conference over whether the limited tariff proposals should count as earmarks.

Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) has argued that the proposals are clear violations of House rules. For appropriators, the issue is fairness: They are not permitted to provide spending earmarks in appropriations bills.

Camp argues that the tariff proposals aren’t technically earmarks because they are available to anyone who wants to import the type of goods designated by the legislation.

The miscellaneous tariff bill process “specifically requires Members disclose whether the benefits of the provisions are broadly available and therefore not earmarks,” Ways and Means spokeswoman Sarah Swinehart said. Regarding Fitzpatrick’s tariff proposals, Swinehart said: “There isn’t a process in town that comes close to the scrutiny MTBs receive. Each bill must be able to stand on its own merits.”

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