OIA in D.C. Notes From The Hill: April and May 2022
From May 3-5, outdoor industry leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders gathered in Washington, D.C. to share and collaborate on how we can promote climate change action, inclusion, and outdoor equity programs and initiatives in our businesses and communities. These critical issues – along with numerous other priorities like trade, manufacturing, and increasing access to the outdoors – serve as the foundation for our legislative advocacy at both the federal and state level.
Senate Committee Passes Outdoor Recreation Package
On May 3, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee unanimously approved the America’s Outdoor Recreation Act of 2022, the first comprehensive recreation package since 1963 that will improve and expand America’s outdoor recreation economy while delivering sustainable economic boosts to rural communities.
OIA and 23 members sent a letter of support to Committee leaders as investments like these and provisions like Recreation Not Red Tape, Outdoors for All Act and Simplifying Outdoor Access for Recreation (SOAR) will have a real impact on the ability of all Americans to spend time outside and enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of outdoor recreation.
Advancing American Competition
OIA supports legislative efforts designed to lower costs for outdoor businesses in the United States at a time when they are already working through a slew of challenges to produce and provide the essential goods that outdoor consumers use every day.
Last month, OIA along with 30 trade associations signed a letter to Senate and House leadership on April 1, opposing the Country-of-Origin Online Labeling (COOL) provision included in the Senate-passed United States Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260). We believe determining the country of origin for a product is an extremely complex issue, particularly for online retailers and sellers, and the FTC does not have the ability to make appropriate determinations as required by the provision.
Additionally, along with 200 companies and industry organizations, OIA signed a letter on April 26, calling on Congress to include a robust package of Miscellaneous Tariff Bills (MTBs) in final legislation that combines the United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) with the America COMPETES Act and to authorize new rounds of MTBs. MTBs provide temporary tariff relief on products not produced domestically. In collaboration with members of OIA’s Trade Advisory Council (OIATAC), OIA sponsored eight footwear MTBs that were cleared by the administration and included in the Senate passed USICA legislation.
Since the previous package of MTBs expired on December 31, 2020, manufacturers and other businesses have paid more than $500 million in tariffs, or $1.3 million per day, on goods that are not available in the United States. Past OIA MTBs have saved outdoor companies more than $40 million, duty savings that have supported new jobs, new products, and economic growth. We will provide information to OIA members on how they can utilize this process to help their bottom line when a new MTB round is enacted.
Since the previous package of MTBs and authorization of GSP expired on December 31, 2020, American companies have paid at least $1.4 billion in extra taxes and manufacturers and other businesses have paid more than $500 million in tariffs on goods that are not available in the United States while also dealing with COVID-19 impacts, high freight costs, and supply chain disruptions in both the United States and beneficiary countries. Past OIA MTBs have saved outdoor companies more than $40 million, duty savings that have supported new jobs, new products, and economic growth. We will provide information to OIA members on how they can utilize this process to help their bottom line when a new MTB round is enacted.
OIA also wrote to Senate and House leadership on May 3 urging a prompt reauthorization of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), the main trade preference program for developing countries. Eligible articles from GSP beneficiary countries may enter the US duty-free. OIA led the effort to add backpacks, sports bags, and other travel goods to GSP in 2017 and duty savings on those products totaled $300 million in 2020. Since GSP expired on December 31, 2020, however, OIA members have had to pay duties on those products, stifling innovation and job growth.
Protecting American Supply Chains
Bipartisan efforts are necessary to fix supply chain issues and ease shipping backlogs. This month, Congress passed the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (S. 3580/H.R. 4996) in both chambers. OIA and 91 trade associations sent their gratitude to Senate and House leaders on April 20, as reforms in both versions of the OSRA will help address the longstanding, systematic supply chain and port disruption issues which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Increasing Efficient Transportation Networks
Additionally, OIA expressed support for the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program. This funding would contribute to meeting the overwhelming demand for investment in active transportation networks that provide opportunities for safe walking and bicycling to daily destinations, enabling communities to combat climate change by shifting to carbon-free transportation options.
Supporting Public Lands
We are thrilled Congress continues to fund legislation to support the $689 billion outdoor industry ecosystem. Along with other hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation organizations, OIA sent a letter of thanks on April 28 to Senate and House Appropriations Committee leadership for passing the Modernizing Access to Our Public Land (MAPLand) Act. The letter also urged committee members to provide generous funding in the next year to the Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to ensure mapping programs and GPS technology is adequately funded.