U.S. IMPORT INDUSTRY SEEKS HOUSE SUPPORT TO KILL PROPOSED MPF EXTENSION
The U.S. import industry suffered a setback Friday when the Senate voted against hearing its case for striking language from a high-profile patients’ rights bill that would extend the government’s collection of the merchandise processing fee for another eight years.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, ranking minority leader of the Senate Finance Committee filed an amendment based on the industry’s protest against the proposed MPF extension. His remarks included letters from the Joint Industry Group, American Electronics Association, National Retail Federation, National Association of Foreign Trade Zones, and Liz Claiborne.
Grassley’s amendment was considered. However, Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., Senate Budget chairman, opposed the amendment arguing it would violate the Congressional Budget Act, because it would remove funds from the Patient Bill of Rights and would deplete the Social Security fund. A motion to waive the point failed 52-46, ending Grassley’s amendment attempt.
A similar Patient Bill of Rights is working its way through the House, but does not include a proposal to extend MPF. Industry groups plan to begin lobbying the House aggressively to prevent the inclusion of an MPF extension in the final legislation.
“We are continuing to work on the House side, as the bill will eventually have to go to conference for reconciliation,” said Alan Atkinson, spokesman for the Joint Industry Group in Washington.
Importers have opposed MPF since its implementation in the 1985 Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act, because the industry was led to believe by Congress that the money would be used for Customs modernization purposes. Instead the revenue is placed in the government’s general fund. Customs collected about $1 billion in MPF last year.