>> So we're gonna build our steel industry back, and we're gonna build our aluminum industry back.>> As President Trump pushes to protect factory jobs in the United States, Congress is poised to pass a law that could make life harder for some American manufacturers. I'm Andy Sullivan in Naples, Florida where Korchmar, a family-owned business, is trying to expand production of backpacks, bags, and other products here in the United States.
They say their job is harder because of a little known bill in Congress that will allow competitors to bring in similar products duty free from overseas, meaning it wouldn't be cost-effective to make them here. It's known as the miscellaneous tariff bill, and it would temporarily reduce import duties on more than 1,600 different products entering the United States from basketballs to pesticides.
Supporters of the bill, which has already pass the House, say these goods aren't competitive with products made in the United States. They say that doing away with the charges on these imports will save US businesses roughly $1 million a day. But in fact, a Reuters analysis found that many of the items in the bill from kitchen knives to nail clippers to snow boots are also made in the United States.
And the companies that make those products in the United States told Reuters they were unaware that Congress was about to lower the protective tariffs that help them stay competitive with overseas producers. Korchmar is one of those firms. They used to be the largest maker of leather briefcases in the world before it closed its US factories and moved production offshore.
Now the company is back in the United States, making high-end bags for clients like Shinola and Allen Edmonds. CEO Michael Korchmar said he planned to branch out into food bags and other cheaper products until he found out that some of his rivals had managed to get those items into the tariff bill.
>> Given the fact that these products will be able to come in the country duty free, it's not likely that there's any ability for us to compete. And we will shelf those projects for the time being.>> President Trump hasn't weighed in on the bill, but it could run counter to his protectionist impulses.
He said he plans to raise tariffs to protect US steel and aluminum makers, and he's already hiked import fees on washing machines made overseas. The larger questions is whether this bill, which is supposed to help US manufacturing is inadvertently undercutting it in some examples. Korchmar says that they would hire dozens more people to produce products here in America if this bill didn't provide exceptions for rivals to bring them in cheaply from overseas.
The bill's fate is now in the hands of the Senate where lawmakers are expected to take it up in the coming weeks.