- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 5, 2003

More than two-thirds of the Senate signed and sent a letter to President Bush yesterday defending a trade measure that pays millions of dollars to U.S. companies annually.
The Bush administration's budget, released Monday, calls on Congress to repeal the Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000, also known as the Byrd Amendment, for Sen. Robert C. Byrd, the West Virginia Democrat who wrote the measure.
Under the act, the U.S. Customs Service collects duties on products the government says are unfairly subsidized or dumped in the United States. Those duties are paid to the U.S. companies that lodged the complaint. Foreign businesses ended up paying $329 million to about 1,200 U.S. companies last year.
Mr. Bush, in Monday's budget, called the measure a corporate subsidy that provides a "double-dip" benefit to industries that already gain protection from the tariffs.
The World Trade Organization last month ruled that the act violates international trade rules and urged the United States to revise it.
But Mr. Byrd and 67 of his colleagues yesterday sent a letter to the president calling on him to support the measure despite the WTO ruling.
"Its continued operation is critical to preserve jobs that will otherwise be lost as the result of illegal dumping or unfair subsidies and to maintain the competitiveness of American industry," the senators wrote.
"In our view, the WTO has acted beyond the scope of its mandate by finding violations where none exists and where no obligations were negotiated," said the letter, which was signed by 23 Republicans, 44 Democrats and one independent.
The act affected a wide array of companies, but steel manufacturers and processors were among the biggest beneficiaries.
Mr. Byrd inserted the provision into the agriculture appropriation in 2000.

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