by Tom Beline, Cassidy Levy Kent -
My paternal grandfather was an electrician’s mate in the U.S. Navy during the invasion of Normandy before returning home to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and becoming a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1319. My stepfather’s first summer job in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was tarring and repatching the roof of United States Steel Corporation’s Homestead Works. My father-in-law’s college job was on the floor making steel at U. S. Steel’s mill in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania outside of Philadelphia. My parents worked in the public sector. I married into a family of public servants. At my core, I believe in American manufacturing, and I believe in public service.
When I was a young attorney beginning my career at the U.S. Department of Commerce, I observed firsthand the members of the Committee to Support U.S. Trade Laws working to identify and advocate ways to use the dated U.S. trade remedy laws to address constantly evolving unfair trading practices. What most impacted me was seeing how this group of lawyers, who were themselves competitors, could come together on behalf of their clients, share ideas, and advocate for a common goal, which was to preserve American manufacturing jobs.
To be sure, when U.S. policies were all about expanding market access, preserving American manufacturing jobs was generally not top of mind. Membership in this Committee was often met with derision and disdain because tariffs and trade protection were scapegoated as stifling economic growth. Regrettably, so many American companies and workers were left devastated in the wake of this single-minded push toward globalization. With the benefit of hindsight, this Committee’s advocacy for strong enforcement of U.S. trade laws has proven to be the correct course of action for American prosperity. There is no need to sugarcoat it; the need of having a resilient domestic supply chain was made absolutely clear when a global pandemic halted the globalized economy in its tracks and threw multinational supply chains into chaos.
As I begin my term as Chair of this Committee, I have two major initiatives: to remind decision-makers and legislators that (1) U.S. trade laws are a safety valve to protect American manufacturers, producers, and farmers from unfair trade, and (2) there are real people and real communities that need a strong American manufacturing base to prosper. Much of what you will be seeing from the Committee while I am Chair is reconnecting our mission to the people most affected by unfair trade practices. The Committee will be bringing business owners and workers to the table to tell their stories about how fair (and unfair) trade impacts them. The Committee will be talking about the real-world ramifications of decision-making in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere. Finally, we’ll be reminding people that the enforcement of U.S. trade laws is a key part of fashioning diverse, equitable, and inclusive policies because so many of our domestic producers and workers are from underrepresented communities.
Public sentiment is clear: having an American manufacturing base is in the national interest. Enforcing our trade laws is the tip of the spear in preserving the existing manufacturing base—and more importantly, reshoring and growing it.
I am so proud to lead the talented members of the Executive Committee during this time of change in how America thinks about international trade. When our trading partners play by the rules, American manufacturers and American workers can outcompete anyone. I hope you will join us at one of our events and see firsthand how the Committee advocates for domestic manufacturing, production, and farming.
Tom Beline is the current Chair of the Executive Committee to Support the U.S. Trade Laws. He is a partner in the law firm Cassidy Levy Kent and the views expressed here are his own and not attributable to his firm or its clients. Tom lives on Capitol Hill with his partner, Emily Beline, and their daughter Magnolia.