Washington - The Senate Finance Committee today approved Senator Menendez's Cotton Trust Fund legislation to level the playing field for American manufacturing companies and protect thousands jobs in the United States. Menendez's bill would reauthorize a 2006 program to correct a tariff inversion on cotton shirting material imports that make it cheaper to import foreign-made finished shirts than for American manufacturers to import the raw shirting material - thereby promoting the outsourcing of jobs to foreign producers by imposing a tax on American producers. Currently, most foreign producers enjoy duty-free treatment for imports of finished dress shirts while U.S. shirt manufacturers pay tariffs as high as 13.5 percent on shirting fabrics. Reviving the program, which expired at the end of 2009, would help protect as many as 10,000 American jobs throughout the United States, including 300 jobs in New Jersey. The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Click Here for video of the Senator's opening remarks at the Senate Finance committee mark-up.

"American apparel manufacturing workers are losing the battle for jobs on an uneven playing field that benefits foreign producers while slamming American manufacturers with an unfair tax. This is what I call the "Made in America Tax", and we need to end it. We've lost thousands of jobs to Latin American, Canadian and African manufacturers and we'll continue to lose jobs until we keep our promise to promote free AND fair trade when we enter into trade agreements. With this legislation we are doing just that. I thank Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont) and fellow members of the Committee for their support of this important piece of legislation for American workers in New Jersey and the rest of the United States, and I look forward to its consideration by the full senate."

Last year, Senator Menendez toured both "Individualized Shirts" and "Gambert Shirts" in New Jersey to highlight the positive impact this legislation would have in New Jersey by helping protect hundreds of jobs in some of New Jersey's oldest companies.

Summary of Senator Menendez's Cotton Trust Fund Legislation:

  • Reauthorizes the 2006 program of duty restrictions and duty refunds for imports of cotton shirting fabrics to shirt makers who continue manufacturing in the U.S. despite competition from overseas created by the adoption of trade agreements that eliminate duties for imported finished dress shirts.
  • The trust fund corrects a tariff inversion which makes it cheaper to manufacture shirts offshore rather than in the United States.
  • The duty refunds become effective upon implementation of the legislation.
  • The Cotton Trust Fund would be extended through December 31, 2015.

Organizations Supporting the Cotton Trust Fund

  • American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition
  • American Apparel & Footwear Association
  • Supima Cotton (American Pima Cotton Growers)
  • National Council of Textile Organizations
  • ASI
  • National Textile Association
  • Service Employees International Union

Companies Supporting Cotton Trust Fund

  • Individualized Shirts, Perth Amboy, NJ
  • Gambert Shirts, Newark, NJ
  • Brooks Brothers, Garland, NC
  • Gitman Gold Shirt Maker, Ashland, PA
  • Dozens of Small Manufacturers/Shirt Makers