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Fitzpatrick Gets Burned on Chemical Tariff Suspension Proposals

Rep. Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) has been criticized for introducing bills that would directly benefit a company in his district, belonging to a campaign donor.

After introducing 12 bills suspending tariffs on chemicals entering the country, Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick has come under fire after eight of the bills would potentially benefit the company of a campaign donor.

The bills, which would amend the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, would benefit United Color
Manufacturing Inc., a dye and pigment firm located in Newtown.

Thomas Nowakowski, the company’s owner, has donated more than $26,000 to Fitzpatrick since 2002, and $150,000 to Republican candidates and organizations over the same time period.

In addition, Nowakowski’s wife Carmella and his son Thomas Jr. donated $5,500 to Fitzpatrick prior to his proposal of the 12 tariff-related bills.

Fitzpatrick’s campaign refused to comment on the issue without a response from his opponent Kathy Boockvar, who was unavailable.

The controversy over Fitzpatrick’s potential earmarks comes amid growing recognition of tariff earmarks’ prevalence in the House of Representatives. Under Republican party rules, legislators can’t provide earmarks of any kind in proposed bills.

Under Fitzpatrick’s bills, the 6- to 7-percent duty on chemical imports would be suspended temporarily. Proponents of the bill – including Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) – argue that lowering tariffs would allow American manufacturers to be globally competitive.

United Color Manufacturing first proposed the bills to Sen. Casey, who introduced the Senate version of Fizpatrick’s bills. Unlike Republicans, Democrats haven’t banned earmarks in tariff suspensions, though they have prohibited their inclusion in spending bills.

In an article from Roll Call, Casey’s spokesperson April Mellody said Fitzpatrick’s bills benefit Pennsylvania directly in the world market.

“Senator Casey introduced these bills to help level the playing field for Pennsylvania manufacturers,” Mellody said.

“These companies face unfair global competition…This company is sustaining Pennsylvania jobs and the Senator wants to make sure they have the tools they need to grow and retain their workforce.”

Nowakowski echoed Casey’s stance on the proposals in the same Roll Call article, saying that American companies are placed at a disadvantage because of regulations and labor laws, and that Fitzpatrick’s proposals ease some of these burdens.

“A lot of our competition comes from China, comes from India, comes from Mexico,” Nowakowski said.

“And basically, the rules and regulations are less over there. The wages are less over there.”

Despite the controversy over Fitzpatrick’s bills, Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) has pushed for legislation like Fitzpatrick’s in a larger bill.

Fitzpatrick and Camp’s legislative proposals have raised a debate within the Republican Party of the scope of the ban on earmarks.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) argued that tariff proposals present a clear-cut case of earmarking as defined by the party’s ban.

Rogers’ point of contention laid in the lack of fairness between committees in terms of earmarking, since legislators can’t provide spending earmarks in appropriations bill.

16 Responses

  1. Ah, Brad in this case if you misunderstood, he is helping to keep jobs in PENNSYLVANIA

  2. Hey Sue from Fairless – What do you have against helping USA producers? What is it about keeping jobs here you don’t get? Bob Casey has done the same thing to help out companies. Good for both Fitzpatrick and Casey. And corp interests is a joke as many of the companies Fitzpatrick has helped are small family owned companies doing their best to stay in the USA. Shall we examine the history of your pal Murphy while in office?

  3. The note by Susan brings up the valid point that our congress people should not be voting or introducing legislation based on campaign contributions. Their bounden duty is to represent ALL their constituents. Obviously in this case Rep. Fitzpatrick is caught catering to corporate interests who have been giving him big money donations for a decade. Fitzpatrick only represents his own interests, which happen to correspond to tea party types such as vandium1 who obviously either cannot read or simply distorts issues to his own bias.

  4. So Susan Gibbons is again Fitzpatrick helping local businesses continue to employ local residents in the 8th district.
    When is Bob Casey Jr. going to be held to the same standard.

    And Mrs. Boockvar, I am glad you are concerned about perception, it will become an issue.

  5. GASP! OMG! Failed to mentioned ex rep. Murphy also supported a similar bill! Non-Issue at all.

  6. I like opinions and I like facts to back them up.

    Would someone please tell me where President Obama ever demonized profit as greed?

    The presentation of propaganda and sentiment in the place of solid facts is not worthy of legitimate discussion.

    Mr. Fitzpatrick is no different from most of the representatives in Washington who take donations from local business interests to fund their campaigns. He is no different from others that mindlessly continue trade policies that strip jobs in America or fail to understand the proper regulation of trade polices away from the international banking systems that refuse to fund our infrastructure as we become a third world entity only revered for the ability of our military to defend trade routes.

    Recognition that he presents no difference to the present madness that is present in our Congress is the main reason that I cannot support him.

  7. And Susan, what have you done to help keep jobs in this country? As far as tariff money to the treasury far better to bring money in by generating the expansion of business. Most will not or are not able to pass such costs along especially when a business competes in the world market. Do you really believe that when a producer in the USA is selling against a producer in India or China the USA producer is able to pass these costs to the end user? Let me provide you with real world economic lessons.

  8. The issue is not the legitimacy of lowering the tariffs.
    Casey did not get donor money from the Fitzpatrick donor.
    Legislation should be created in the best interest of the country and the protection of jobs and helping businesses compete against trade treaties that are not fair.
    The issue is the donation and the legislation proposal transactions coming 5 months before the election.
    Tariffs do bring revenue to the treasury and businesses do pass on the cost of doing business on to the consumers, the clients. It is interesting that the donor said he would save in the low 6 figures if the tariffs were lowered yet he paid in the low 6 figures to the republicans for some reason, if not to get legislation, then for what? One does not give up over 175,000 dollars as an act of kindness if one is struggling to hold a company profitable. Quid pro quo is expected. It is also expected if one donates 5 dollars to a candidate who supports issues a donor cares about. The intent is to help that candidate get elected. To say making a donation is done without expecting a return is not reality. The expectation is the candidate of choice gets elected, and acts on those issues the donor supports.
    We need good legislation created for the good of the country and its people, and not legislation proposed to favor the big donors so the flow of money would continue.

  9. Completely agree with you Avid. At a time when we need jobs here why make it harder for domestic companies to be competitive around the world. Unlike earmarks when a company gets tariff relief there is no direct taxpayer money coming back. We must do whatever we can to keeps decent jobs in America and not in countries that often don’t play by any rules.

  10. This is an absolute non-issue. Democrat Casey supports this too. I did not vote for either of these men. However, it pleases me that at last, both parties can find some common ground. After all, we are all TIRED of seeing manufacturing jobs disappear. What baffles me is that when an attempt is made to make it easier to compete for what little industry we have left, people complain. Unbelievable.

  11. And what exactly is the problem with helping a PA based company be competitive with India & China? Unlike earmarks in these situations no money is given to any company that gets tariff relief. Sen. Casey has done the same thing. Isn’t it a good thing for once to protect jobs here?

  12. Better Call, you bring up an interesting question. Your vote should mean something. It should mean more than money coming in from a company that will ultimately benefit from Fitzpatrick’s legislative powers. Take a step back away from single-issue voting and realize this man is scum and should be kicked out of the general assembly, not representing people – because his is, in fact, NOT representing people, he’s representing a business and his own self-interest.

  13. And Casey doesn’t come under fire? I donated to Fitzpatrick and I support his pro-life votes….does that mean I bought his vote in that issue?

  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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