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(Submitted by Congressional office) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting, and defending America’s free enterprise system, urges you to consider the following recommendations as the House prepares to consider H.R. 2822, the “Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016.” The Chamber supports a prohibition on use of appropriated funds to implement the National Ocean Policy. The administration’s National Ocean Policy was developed without explicit Congressional authorization and would create a significant barrier to economic development across many sectors of the economy. While the policy is notionally directed at ocean use, it also potentially allows for additional regulation of water runoff from every geographic corner of the country needlessly stifling activities ranging from agriculture to manufacturing to road building. Additionally, the Chamber supports any efforts to include a provision that would prohibit the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from using any funds to implement or administer any change to the definition of waters under the jurisdiction of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. The final “waters of the United States” rule by EPA and the Corps will expand this definition and negatively impact job creation and economic growth. The Chamber strongly urges you to prohibit implementation of EPA carbon regulations on new and existing power plants, as currently proposed. These proposed rules would pose a significant threat to not only the diversity and reliability of the U.S. electricity system, but would negatively impact nearly every sector of the economy. Accordingly, the Chamber encourages any and all policy and budget actions necessary to reduce the potential harm that would be posed by these proposed rules. The Chamber supports Rep. Evan Jenkins’ efforts to prohibit EPA from tightening the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, as proposed by the Agency in December 2014, until the current ozone NAAQS is fully implemented, including prohibiting EPA from lowering the ozone NAAQS until 85 percent of counties in non-compliance with the current standard come into compliance. The Chamber also supports any efforts to include a provision that would prohibit the Department of Interior from using any funds to treat the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The Chamber supports any provision that would prohibit funding to be used to finalize or implement the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle (ROV) Mandatory Standard Rule. This rulemaking by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) disregards the collective input and knowledge of a wide variety of stakeholders and could have unintended safety consequences. The development of voluntary design standards for ROVs through the American National Standards Institute standards update process, with participation by industry and other stakeholders, would be overwhelmingly preferable to having CPSC impose a mandatory standard. The Chamber urges you to provide full funding for contract support costs owed to federally recognized tribes and Alaska Native Corporations. Full funding would help ensure tribal self-determination, continue to foster economic development in Indian Country, and avoid establishing a harmful precedent between the federal government and contractor community overall. The Chamber urges against adoption of any provision that would blacklist government contractors solely on the basis of a change in the location of their corporate domicile. Debarring contractors who are in full compliance with U.S. law (including paying taxes on income earned in the United States like every other domestic and foreign company that operates within U.S. borders) undermines the principles of “full and open competition” and best value for the taxpayer that have been the longstanding cornerstones of U.S. government procurement policy. Enactment of so-called anti-inversion proposals could also result in reduced competition for federal contracts while simultaneously placing at risk the jobs of U.S. workers who provide goods and services to the U.S. government. Lastly, the Chamber opposes any efforts to add any provision that would override the current process for holding contractors accountable for their violations of workplace laws like the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Contracting offices are currently able to take into account contractor compliance with a variety of workplace laws and requirements, including the FLSA, which can go as far as suspension and debarment from federal contracting if the violations are recurring or severe. Amendments like this would ignore the existing process and mandate debarment—a draconian penalty with no exceptions for minor violations. These amendments would lead to many current contractors being debarred, ultimately resulting in job losses and major disruptions in supplying the federal government with necessary goods and services. If such an amendment is offered to this bill, the Chamber urges you to oppose it. The Chamber appreciates your consideration of these recommendations as you consider H.R. 2822, the “Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016.”
June 25, 2015(Submitted by Congressional office) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly urges you to support H.R. 1295, the “Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015,” which would extend the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), special trade preferences for Haiti, and the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. The Chamber will include votes on, or in relation to, this bill—including votes on the Rule—in our annual How They Voted scorecard. Since it was enacted in 2000, AGOA has become the cornerstone of the U.S. commercial relationship with Africa. Across the continent, U.S. companies of all sizes and sectors see huge opportunities. In 2002-2014, Africa’s two-way merchandise trade with the United States rose by 47% to reach $72.5 billion. AGOA helped catalyze this expansion of trade, which today supports tens of thousands of American and African jobs. However, absent congressional action, AGOA will lapse on September 30. In fact, the program’s looming expiration is already undermining business and investor certainty. Companies operate with long planning horizons, and sourcing decisions are made many months or even years in advance. H.R. 1295 would remedy this by extending AGOA through September 30, 2025, providing the certainty necessary for long-term investments in Africa. Similarly, GSP has promoted economic growth in more than 120 developing countries by providing duty-free access to the U.S. market for select goods. However, this four decade-old program lapsed on July 31, 2013. GSP boosts the competitiveness of American manufacturers by lowering their costs. Approximately three-quarters of U.S. imports under GSP are raw materials, parts and components, or machinery and equipment used by U.S. companies to manufacture goods in the United States for domestic consumption or for export. Imports under GSP generally do not compete with U.S.-made goods in any significant way. A Chamber study found that GSP supports more than 80,000 U.S. jobs. The program also helps American families stretch their budgets by eliminating duties on a variety of usually inexpensive consumer goods. H.R. 1295 would renew GSP through December 31, 2017, and refund tariffs paid to date on eligible imports. The bill would also extend special trade preferences for Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, through September 30, 2025. In addition, the Chamber supports the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) legislation included in H.R. 1295. International commerce has contributed approximately one-third of U.S. economic growth in recent years and today supports one in five American jobs. At times, however, tough global competition can adversely impact American workers. TAA was enacted in 1962 as a response to these challenges. The TAA legislation now before Congress reflects bipartisan reforms—reached in recent weeks and in 2011—that preserve the more effective elements of the TAA program and eliminate aspects that have proven less useful. The legislation is respectful of the difficult fiscal circumstances facing the United States, and we believe it deserves support. The Chamber strongly supports these trade preference programs and TAA. Due to the importance of this bill, the Chamber will include votes on, or in relation to, H.R. 1295—including votes on the Rule—in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
(Letter submitted by Congressional office)The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting, and defending America’s free enterprise system, supports H.R. 2576, the “TSCA Modernization Act of 2015.” This bipartisan legislation, which was reported unanimously from the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce, would bring much needed reforms to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) of 1976. H.R. 2576 would improve protections for public health and the environment. The bill would also provide clarity for industry and manufacturers to continue economic growth by establishing a new system for EPA to manage and evaluate risks of chemicals; and maintain protection of confidential chemical formulas and business information. The Chamber strongly urges you to approve H.R. 2576. The Chamber may consider votes on, or in relation to, this bill in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
(Letter submitted by Congressional office)
(Letter submitted by Congressional office)The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting, and defending America’s free enterprise system, urges you to support H.R. 1190, the “Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act,” which would eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The IPAB is a commission to be appointed by the President with the unprecedented authority to make recommendations to cut Medicare spending by reducing reimbursement rates if the growth rate of spending exceeds the target growth rate. If Congress does not implement spending cuts equal to the amount recommended by the IPAB, the IPAB’s recommendations automatically take effect with no administrative or judicial review of the Secretary’s implementation of an IPAB proposal. In addition to setting a dangerous precedent for superseding the conventional legislative process, the IPAB would lead to potentially arbitrary cuts to the Medicare program. If reimbursement rates to Medicare providers are inadequate, this would shift costs onto private payers and consumers and would also affect patient access to care and innovative therapies. Since IPAB cuts would be based on total Medicare spending, these Medicare spending cuts would fall heaviest on physicians, Medicare Advantage, and Part D plans. Instead of focusing on improving the health care system by implementing delivery system reforms to address cost and quality issues in health care, the IPAB’s focus on continued cuts to Medicare spending, likely in the form of repeated cuts to provider payment rates, would preclude a constructive dialogue about Medicare modernization, meaningful spending reform, and overall entitlement reform. The Chamber has long applauded efforts to repeal the IPAB and looks forward to working with Congress to improve patient choice and ensure access to quality, affordable health care. The Chamber supports H.R. 1190 and urges Congress to pass this vital legislation and continue to pursue meaningful reforms to the health care system.
(Letter submitted by Congressional office)The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting, and defending America’s free enterprise system, strongly supports H.R. 160, the “Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2015.” This critical legislation repeals the onerous excise tax on medical device manufacturers enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – now estimated to cost over $30 billion in new taxes.Imposed on medical device manufacturers whether or not they make a profit, this new 2.3 percent tax on the sale of virtually all medical devices leads to increased health care costs, undercutting one of the primary goals of health care reform. According to a recent survey by the Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), two-thirds of the companies surveyed reported that they have had to “slow or halt U.S. job creation as a result of the tax.” Similarly, a recent survey by the Medical Device Manufacturers Association (MDMA) of 100 industry executives found that 72 percent “slowed or halted job creation” to pay for the tax, and 85 percent would hire more workers if the tax were repealed.Further, by driving up the cost of medical technology, the tax undermines America’s global leadership position in product innovation, clinical research, and patient care. The AdvaMed survey found that 53 percent of respondents have reduced research and development as a result of the tax and 75 percent said they have: deferred or cancelled capital investments and plans to open new facilities, reduced investment in start-up companies, found it more difficult to raise capital, and reduced or deferred increases in employee compensation. If it isn’t repealed, this tax will continue to weaken the industry’s ability to create and maintain well-paying jobs in the United States and hinder the development of breakthrough treatments.As we continue to see the destructive effects of the medical device tax hit employers, employees, and the U.S. economy at large, the Chamber urges swift bipartisan and bicameral action to repeal this tax before further damage is done. The Chamber urges you to support H.R. 160 and may consider including votes on, or in relation to, this bill in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting, and defending America’s free enterprise system, strongly supports H.R. 2289, the “Commodity End-User Relief Act,” a bipartisan bill that would reauthorize the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). This bill also includes a number of important reforms designed to promote smart regulation, enhance accountability at the CFTC, and protect Main Street businesses from onerous and unintended derivatives regulation. The Chamber is particularly supportive of provisions in H.R. 2289 that would help preserve the ability of commercial end users to manage their financial risks by using derivatives. This bill includes a critical fix that would ensure non-financial companies would be protected from burdensome and unnecessary regulations, consistent with Congress’s clear intent under the Dodd-Frank Act almost five years ago. Non-financial companies that use centralized treasury units to manage their enterprise-wide risk should not be penalized for adopting this risk reducing structure, and H.R. 2289 acknowledges and would address this issue. This bill also takes a practical approach to address one of the most problematic areas of regulatory implementation in the global derivatives market: cross-border harmonization. Many end users operate internationally and are struggling to meet the changing demands of multiple, conflicting, and sometimes duplicative regulatory regimes. H.R. 2289 would require the CFTC to move quickly to make substituted compliance determinations that would significantly reduce needless complexity and uncertainty for U.S. businesses, without reducing market transparency. The Chamber also supports provisions in this bill intended to promote transparency and accountability in the CFTC’s rulemaking process, including a requirement to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for new rules, and the establishment of an Office of the Chief Economist to support such analysis. Cost-benefit analysis has been a fundamental tool of effective government for more than three decades, and these requirements would help protect Main Street businesses, investors, and consumers from some of the unintended consequences of regulation. Additionally, H.R. 2289 contains a number of sensible provisions that would promote principles of good governance, including providing market participants with better Commission oversight regarding “no action” letters issued by the CFTC staff, and a requirement that the CFTC develop internal risk control mechanisms in order to protect sensitive market data. These are common sense measures that would help make the CFTC a more effective and accountable regulator, and the Chamber appreciates their inclusion in this bill. The Chamber strongly urges you to support H.R. 2289 and may consider including votes on, or in relation to, this bill in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
Signed Protecting America’s Cyber Networks Coalition letter
Signed Protecting America’s Cyber Networks Coalition letter
March 2, 2015The U.S. Chamber of Commerce applauds Reps. Maxine Waters, Gwen Moore, StenyHoyer, and Dennis Heck for introducing H.R. 1031, the “Promoting U.S. Jobs through Exports Act,” which would provide a long-term reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im). The Chamber has also expressed support for H.R.597, the “Reform Exports and Expand the American Economy Act,” which was introduced in January by Rep. Fincher. The combined support for these bills demonstrates that more than half of the members of the U.S. House of Representatives support long-term reauthorization of Ex-Im. Failure to reauthorize Ex-Im would put at risk more than 150,000 American jobs at 3,000 companies that depend on the Bank to be able to compete in global markets. Ex-Im is especially important to small- and medium-size businesses, which account for more than 85 percent of Ex-Im’s transactions. Tens of thousands of smaller companies that supply goods and services to large exporters also benefit from Ex-Im’s activities.Other countries are providing approximately 18 times more export credit assistance to their exporters than Ex-Im did to U.S. exporters last year. If Congress fails to reauthorize Ex-Im, the United States would become the only major trading nation without such a bank, putting American exporters at a unique disadvantage in tough global markets. Far from skewing the playing field, this bill would level it by reauthorizing the bank and ensuring transparency in its operations.Reauthorization of Ex-Im would benefit taxpayers by reducing the deficit by hundreds of millions of dollars. Far from being a subsidy, Ex-Im has generated $2.7 billion for taxpayers in the last six years, mostly through fees collected from foreign customers. Eliminating Ex-Im would increase the U.S. budget deficit. Ex-Im’s overall active default rate hovers below one-quarter of one percent, a default rate lower than commercial banks.The U.S. Chamber, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting, and defending America’s free enterprise system, urges the House to pass long-term Ex-Im reauthorization as Sincerely,R. Bruce Josten
February 12, 2015(letter submitted by Congressional office)The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending America’s free enterprise system, strongly supports H.R. 636, the “America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act of 2015,” which would make permanent increased expensing provisions that expired at the end of 2014. The Chamber has long called for quicker cost recovery and supports providing companies the ability to recover the cost of investment in their businesses more quickly than if they use depreciation. While the Chamber strongly supports these improvements to our broken tax code, piecemeal reforms are not a substitute for comprehensive tax reform that lowers rates, reduces the cost of capital for all entities, provides a more internationally competitive system, increases certainty, and decreases complexity. The Chamber looks forward to continuing to work with Congress to achieve much needed comprehensive tax reform. However, as this work continues towards comprehensive tax reform, businesses should not face short-term harm because of their reliance on provisions that, while temporary, have been extended repeatedly such that taxpayers have reasonably made long term business plans around an expectation of another extension. The extension of expired and expiring provisions would foster more effective business decisions and help spur capital investment and job creation. The Chamber strongly urges you to support H.R. 636 and may consider including votes on, or in relation to, this bill in our annual How They Voted scorecard. The Chamber also urges quick action on other expired and expiring tax provisions and looks forward to continuing work towards comprehensive tax reform. Sincerely, R. Bruce Josten
February 11, 2015 The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting, and defending America’s free enterprise system, supports S. 1, the “Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act,” which would approve the Presidential Permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline project as described in the application filed by TransCanada on May 4, 2012. The Keystone XL permit request has been under consideration by the Administration since 2008; and in the face of continued indecision by the President on this important matter, the Chamber believes it is crucial for Congress to act. The pipeline proposal has undergone considerable examination and a thorough and lengthy environmental review. The Chamber has long been on record in support of this project because it would produce good, high paying jobs, increase supplies of Canadian and American crude to refiners, and therefore further bolster American economic and energy security. And with the Nebraska court case resolved and remaining barriers removed, additional administrative delay of the project seems counterproductive to America’s national interests and certain to hurt American consumers and industry. In addition, the Chamber strongly supports a provision of this bill regarding energy efficiency. As part of an all-of-the-above energy policy, the Chamber is a longtime supporter of energy efficiency. This no-cost, no-mandate provision would advance energy efficiency through reduced regulatory burden, increased transparency and a focus on the federal government as a first mover to save taxpayer dollars on energy bills. The Chamber strongly urges you to vote in favor of S. 1, the “Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act,” and may consider including votes on, or in relation to, this bill in our annual How They Voted scorecard. Sincerely, R. Bruce Josten
January 27, 2015(letter submitted to POPVOX by Congressional office) The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting, protecting, and defending America’s free enterprise system, strongly supports H.R.351, the “LNG Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act,” which would reduce trade barriers limiting and delaying the export of natural gas and bring more supply of this critical energy source to the world, while spurring additional job creation and government revenue in the U.S. The United States is the largest producer of natural gas in the world and has a large and growing natural gas resource base. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that proved and unproven reserves of nature gas are 2,266 trillion cubic feet. EIA also acknowledges the uncertainty of the shale gas numbers based on the limited development that has occurred. Historically, as new resources are developed, actual reserves increase. Even this current resource estimate would sustain domestic demand for a century. Lessening existing restraints on the free trade of liquefied natural gas (LNG) would provide an economic boost across the economy and enable America to more fully capitalize on its incredible natural gas resource base. This view is sustained in a NERA Economic Consulting study sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE) released in December 2012, which examined the economic implications of exporting LNG and concluded that “in all of the scenarios analyzed…the U.S. would experience net economic benefits from increased LNG exports.” The increasing production of natural gas from shale formations has been one of the few economic bright spots over the last five years. A 2012 study sponsored by the Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy and published by IHS concluded that unconventional gas development supported over 900,000 jobs in 2012. The majority of these jobs have been created in the previous five years, coinciding with the Great Recession and some of the highest unemployment in a generation. This study also found that unconventional gas development added over $120 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2012. This rapid development was catalyzed by market forces and the unleashing of technology and innovation developed over many decades. The current regulatory limitation of LNG exports creates an artificial barrier that constrains production and all of the associated economic benefits. The laws of supply and demand dictate that licensing new export facilities would send the necessary market signal to encourage producers to increase natural gas production and exploration. Because the construction of an export facility requires some three to five years, there would be ample time for the market signal to result in additional production coming on line. A follow-on IHS study published in 2013 that examined the impact of unconventional energy development on the manufacturing sector concluded that by 2025 over 318,000 jobs would be supported and over $50 billion in additional GDP created, in part because it assumes the U.S. would be exporting LNG. Additionally, the increased exploration and production of methane would have an ancillary impact of also increasing the production of natural gas liquids (NGLs). These hydrocarbons, such as ethane and butane, are feedstocks of the petrochemical industry and are used to produce plastics, fertilizers, and pharmaceuticals. This increased production would, in turn, place downward price pressure on NGLs, helping to offset any potential and temporary upward pressure created by LNG exports. U.S. natural gas exports would have a pronounced impact on the global market geopolitical calculus of most nations in Europe and Asia even if they would not be direct recipients of U.S. gas. Prices for LNG in Europe and Asia’s are upwards of double U.S. prices, and forecast to grow at a faster rate than in the U.S. Global demand has been outstripping supply recently. As demand continues to increase, the risk that exports controlled by central governments may be utilized as an extension of that country’s geopolitical goals has increased. Any additional supply entering the market places downward price pressure on traded natural gas, undermining the potential influence exporting states may exert on their constrained customers. This is especially true for U.S. exported gas, which most assume will be tied to U.S. prices (set at supply and demand equilibrium) as opposed to the historic global pricing scheme tying natural gas prices directly to crude oil. Owing to increased supply from shale development, U.S. natural gas prices are lower than most global sources. If H.R. 351 is enacted and present natural gas export barriers lessened, the global market would benefit from increased competition, and importing countries would be provided with greater freedom of choice. While it would take several years to construct new export facilities, the impacts would be felt in the near-term. Importers would immediately begin competing for potential future shipments from the U.S., significantly reducing the leverage maintained by countries that may use natural gas exports for political purposes. Existing U.S. energy export policy is a vestige of previous eras of energy scarcity. Owing to American ingenuity, the U.S. is blessed with energy abundance, and U.S. policies must be brought into the 21st century to reflect that. The Chamber strongly supports H.R. 351, the “Domestic Prosperity and Global Freedom Act,” and may consider votes on, or in relation to, H.R. 351 in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
(signed coalition letter)
(signed coalition letter)
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