A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by freshman Congressman Tom Reed (R-NY), are pushing to violate the congressional earmark ban with a miscellaneous tariff bill that provides special tax treatment to targeted companies looking to import goods. The bill, which provides an uneven playing field for business, is widely viewed as a payback to campaign contributors.

A Republic Report investigation found that many of Reed’s targeted tariffs benefit Reed’s top donors.

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), a leading contender for Mitt Romney’s running mate, is joining a bipartisan set of lawmakers, including Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Jim DeMint (R-SC), in an effort to provide oversight — and likely kill large parts — of the tariff-earmark bill:

Although relatively obscure, it’s a top priority of the business lobby. But the bill is in limbo because many critics of Congressional earmarks say the limited tariff benefits that make up the law are banned under House and Senate rules.
Portman, a veteran of both Bush administrations and the House, has joined Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) in introducing legislation that would give the International Trade Commission the first look at the proposals, rather than vetting what Congress sends to the ITC, transcending the problem with the earmark ban.

Reed, who dismissed criticism about his earmarks in an interview with Republic Report, would suffer a blow if the bill is subject to greater scrutiny by the International Trade Commission.

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