WASHINGTON — The House narrowly passed a budget-reduction package Friday that would eliminate a cotton subsidy program and repeal a trade law that compensates domestic firms hurt by undervalued imports — two measures found to be illegal by the World Trade Organization.
House GOP leaders barely overcame an impasse with moderate Republicans to pass the almost $50 billion package of mandatory spending cuts by a vote of 217-215. The leadership was forced to pull the legislation from a floor vote almost two weeks ago after many GOP lawmakers refused to line up with party leaders on sensitive cuts to programs such as Medicare, food stamps and student loans.
Last-minute deal-making came with concessions, including removal of a provision to open up oil drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge, a centerpiece of President Bush's energy policy.
House leaders now likely will face contentious talks with the Senate, which passed a more modest budget-cut package in an effort to reconcile the differences between the two bills. One of the main points of contention in a conference committee could center around the repeal of the Byrd Amendment, named after Sen. Robert Byrd (D., W.Va.), which is contained in the House bill but not in the Senate's.
Textile executives oppose the elimination of the compensation provided by the Byrd Amendment law for goods dumped on the U.S. at prices below market value. The U.S. has distributed more than $1 billion in antidumping duties to companies under Byrd during the last five years.
U.S. textile companies have filed only a handful of antidumping cases because they are costly and often take months to conclude, but many experts expect to see an increase in textile cases once a remedy they have been using — China safeguard quotas — expires at the end of 2008.
Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, which opposes the repeal of the Byrd law, said there will be plenty of friction in the conference committee over the Byrd Amendment.
"On one side, Rep. Bill Thomas (R., Ca.), chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, has to do something because of the WTO ruling, but on the other side, the majority of senators will not want to undermine the Byrd Amendment because it has built-in constituency," said Tantillo. "If you have a company in your state that has filed a dumping case and it gets relief through Byrd payments, you understand why a significant number of senators support it."Tantillo believes the Senate side will prevail.
Importers and retailers are pressing for the repeal of the Byrd Amendment because they contend it ultimately increases consumer prices.
In addition, the European Union slapped a 15 percent tariff on imports of 10 kinds of U.S.-made apparel in May after Congress failed to meet a repeal deadline set by the WTO.
Stephen Lamar, senior vice president at the American Apparel & Footwear Association, said the repeal of Byrd will "survive in conference." He said perceptions likely have changed since the General Accounting Office released a report stating Byrd payments only go to a handful of U.S. companies.
"Budget reconciliation is an exercise to try to find places where you can cut the budget and return money to the Treasury," Lamar said. "You've got money going out to a handful of companies [under Byrd] and not to the general welfare, so the law is not doing what Byrd proponents said it would do."
House lawmakers maintain that repealing the Byrd law could add $3.5 billion over five years to the Treasury Department's coffers.
London’s newly opened @designmuseum will look back on the life and work of Azzedine Alaïa in a show that the designer helped to curate before he died of heart failure last month. The retrospective, which Alaïa had worked on with Mark Wilson, chief curator of the @groningermuseum, will look at the impact of his work worldwide. The show, “Azzedine Alaïa: The Couturier,” will run from May 10 to October 7. Read more about the exhibit on WWD.com #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @zefashioninsider)
@Pharrell and his wife Helen Lasichanh were among the stars that came out to celebrate @rimowa’s first pop-up concept shop. The space, which is located on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, draws inspiration from airport luggage carousels and lounge areas – and features the company’s luggage and accessories. If the pop-up is successful it could pave the way for addition temporary shops throughout the world. #wwdfashion (📷: Owen Kolasinski/BFA)
@carineroitfeld celebrated @crfashionbook’s first calendar last night with a dinner party at Spring Place in Manhattan. Photographed by @stevenkleinstudio, the calendar takes on a fitness theme and features @joansmalls, @gigihadid, @danielle_herrington_ – pictured here – and more. “[Carine Roitfeld] wanted me to feel sexy and she wanted me to be myself and feel it out on my own and do what I felt was right,” said Herrington, aka Miss October. #wwdeye
@saintrecords and @virgilabloh last night at @americanexpress’ “A Night With Success Makers” event. “I always bring it back to community because without that I wouldn’t have the courage,” said Knowles when asked how she has gotten where she is now. Read more highlights from their conversation on WWD.com. #wwdeye (📷: @lizdoupnik)
This Just In: Industry sources have told WWD that Anastasia Soare is rumored to be considering selling her beauty business, @anastasiabeverlyhills. According to those sources, Soare has tapped investment bank Imperial Capital to explore sale options for her eponymous beauty brand –– and with at least $340 million in net sales, this would be a big deal. Put in context of other recent transactions for makeup companies, Soare’s price tag could be in the billions if she were to sell the whole thing. #wwdnews #wwdbeauty (📷: @clint_spaulding)
@assouline’s latest book, “The Spirit of Bentley: Be Extraordinary” captures the adventurous attitudes and opulent lifestyles of @bentleymotors’ most creative owners and enthusiasts throughout the U.K. The 292-page hardcover has a section dedicated to showing its team of skilled artisans and photos of its most colorful owners, from George Bamford to designer @alicetemperley, pictured here by Aline Coquelle. #wwdeye
@google released its report on the most popular search terms this year. For fashion brands, the list was led by @gucci, the luxury brand that stunned the market last October when it pledged to stop using fur. Runner ups were @supremenewyork and @fashionnova, along with more established brands like @louisvuitton, @chanelofficial and @ysl. #wwdfashion (📷: @aitorrosasphoto)
In yet another fashion show shuffle, @elleryland is moving its show in sync with the Paris couture calendar — though the brand is still keeping one foot on the city’s ready-to-wear schedule. Their runway show in January will coincide with the launch of a new strategy: designing two main collections each year instead of four, which will then be released in four drops. “As we all know, the system needs to change. We need to show sooner to give time back to artisans and designers to do what they do best — create,” said founder Kym Ellery. #wwdnews #wwdfashion (📷: @kukukuba)
@maxmara’s classic 101801 coat was the cornerstone of its pre-fall 2018 collection. The design team expanded the traditional double-breasted, kimono-sleeved style into a trapeze coat, lean belted styles and a peacoat and presented them in monochromatic looks – like the camel one pictured here. #wwdfashion #prefall18 (📷: George Chinsee)