Bipartisan Group of Senators, Members of Congress Press U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Devastating Impact of Tariffs

Last week, during hearings in the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress and Senators spoke to the negative impacts that President Trump’s tariffs are having on the economy in their states and across the country.

Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA) underscored the detrimental effects that these taxes are having on the steel and aluminum industry in Pennsylvania:

“When tariffs raise the cost of the steel and aluminum, those are higher cost inputs for those manufacturers, who then are less able to compete with foreign companies that are not subject to those taxes…Imposing those taxes on American consumers and manufacturers generally makes us less competitive, not more competitive.”  

Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) highlighted data that shows it is American business, farmers, and consumers who have suffered from the tariffs, not China:

“Studies by multiple Federal Reserve economists and notable academics have found that American businesses and consumers bear the brunt of the Trump Administration’s trade war with China. Our farmers, our manufacturers in particular have been hit hard throughout the country.”

During the House Ways & Means Committee hearing, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2) told Amb. Lighthizer about how hard the tariffs have hit Indiana’s R.V. manufacturers, who need lauan wood to make their products. However, lauan wood is no longer available in the United States, leaving R.V. manufacturers with no choice but to import from abroad: 

“There’s no domestic substitute [for lauan wood] and it has left R.V. manufacturers paying $1 million a month in unnecessary tariffs.” 

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL-7) made the case for why tariffs add insult to injury in the wake of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The pain felt by American consumers and businesses is now being magnified by the pandemic. People are suffering through the loss of loved ones due to the virus. They’ve lost income from losing jobs, and they don’t really have the extra cash in this moment for the burden of paying higher prices due to the tariffs…After all, tariffs are taxes on American consumers and businesses.”

U.S. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA-16) told Amb. Lighthizer about Steelite International America, a company headquartered in his district that delayed a planned expansion because of the costs of tariffs on materials they are unable to source in the United States but need to manufacture their products: 

“If there’s no American producer, what can I tell them because they have no other option and yet they’re getting burdened with these tariffs?”

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5) outlined the significant harm tariffs have caused the economy in general as well as the catastrophic impact of tariffs on the wine industry in his district: 

“As the National Bureau of Economic Research pointed out, we were going into recessionary times before COVID, and all the leading economists tell us it’s because of these tariff wars that we’ve been subjected to…In my district, the leading industries in regard to exports are hit extremely hard because of tariffs and the tariff wars.”

The New York Timesalso highlighted the growing opposition to tariffs since the COVID-19 pandemic began, quoting Americans for Free Trade spokesperson Jonathan Gold as saying:

“Tariffs are taxes that American businesses, farmers and consumers pay. The administration should not leave any economic tools on the table during this time of economic recovery, and that includes deferral of all duties that American companies pay.”

Americans have paid over $57 billion in tariffs because of the trade war, and these taxes continue to threaten the survival of American businesses already struggling to keep their doors open amid the economic crisis. The time is now for Amb. Lighthizer and the Trump Administration to end the tariffs.