CPA Applauds Bipartisan Brown, Portman Letter Urging Biden to Keep Section 301 Tariffs in Place

WASHINGTON — The Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA) today applauded Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) for leading a bipartisan letter to President Joe Biden in support of continuing the Section 301 tariffs imposed on China. The tariffs were imposed after a U.S. investigation found that China was stealing hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. intellectual property annually, as well as engaging in predatory economic activity designed to harm American workers. Senators Mitt Romney (R-UT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Braun (R-IN), Rick Scott (R-FL), James Inhofe (R-OK), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) also signed the letter.

The senators’ letter urges the president “to maintain the tariffs in their current form” and warns that “[r]olling back the tariffs on China would undermine the U.S. position in negotiations, expose many U.S. companies and workers to a sudden flood of imports, and signal to China that waiting out the United States is preferable to changing their non-market behavior or complying with the Phase One Agreement.” 

Importantly, the letter confirms that China tariffs are “not a driver of today’s inflation.” Some Biden administration officials, like Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and Members of Congress have falsely claimed that gutting China tariffs is a proper policy response to address inflation.

“Not only do the tariffs predate the current inflation by over three years, but Chinese imports make up only 2 percent of goods included in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) and would not materially reduce inflation,” the senators wrote. “Indeed, much of the inflation we are seeing relates to fuel and food—sectors that are unrelated to imports from China. To avoid the tremendous strategic cost of lifting the tariffs, we urge you to retain the tariffs on China in their current form, and exercise all the tools at your disposal to assert U.S. rights in the face of China’s unfair economic practices.”

Last month, a Politico headline stated, “With Trump gone, Republicans look to weaken his China tariffs.” Breitbart published a similar report: “Senate Republicans Working to Help Biden Further Cut U.S. Tariffs on China.” Both articles document how Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) is leading a group of Senate Republicans in an effort to gut Section 301 tariffs despite the fact that China is currently violating the Phase One agreement, continues to repeatedly violate international trade rules, and steals and cheats as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) economic warfare against American workers. CPA strongly opposes poison pill efforts to gut 301 tariffs on China and supports the House China bill’s trade title that passed in February. 

CPA released a poll last month, conducted by Morning Consult, that shows an overwhelming majority of voters—including 71% of Democrats, 70% of Independents, and 76% of Republicans—support the U.S. government using trade remedies like tariffs on China. Additionally, an overwhelming majority of voters (71%) support the U.S. government continuing to impose Section 301 tariffs on China and a strong majority (60%) oppose China continuing to receive Most Favored Nation (MFN) trade status.

“On behalf of CPA and our members—the companies and workers who are committed to producing in America—we thank Senators Brown and Portman for leading this letter in support of keeping Section 301 tariffs on China in place,” said CPA Chairman Zach Mottl. “It is clear that the overwhelming majority of Americans support keeping tariffs on China in order to protect U.S. workers and industry from the CCP’s economic warfare. CPA supports bipartisan efforts to pass a China bill that boosts domestic production in an effort to increase U.S. competition with China, but it’s clear that including provisions to gut Sec. 301 tariffs would be a poison pill to this important effort.”

Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 is the only tool the President has to apply tariffs against an entire country in response to state-sponsored economic warfare. The United States imposed tariffs on $370 billion worth of goods from China in response to China’s discriminatory economic practices. Senator Crapo’s provisions to gut Section 301:

  • PRIORITIZES CHINESE PROFITS OVER U.S. ECONOMIC SECURITY in defending against foreign economic warfare and rebuilding U.S. supply chains.
  • CEDES ECONOMIC SOVEREIGNTY TO GENEVA: Makes it virtually impossible for the President to impose Sec. 301 tariffs without the approval of foreign bureaucrats in Geneva.
  • OFFSHORING: Explicitly directs USTR to consider access to cheap Chinese imports over U.S. production.
  • DISMANTLES EXISTING CHINA 301 TARIFFS by allowing any Chinese producer to claim “lost profitability” to obtain an exclusion.
  • REFUNDS CHINA with U.S. taxpayer dollars for any Sec. 301 tariffs paid in 2021 if an exclusion expired at the end of 2020 — transferring at least $14 billion from the U.S. Treasury to Chinese companies.


CPA is the leading national, bipartisan organization exclusively representing domestic producers and workers across many industries and sectors of the U.S. economy.

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