Tariff Suspensions: Download Your Own Data


Thanks to the detective work of the Washington Post, the website of the US International Trade Commission, and the ingenuity of Sunlight’s computer wizards – thank you especially Kerry Mitchell – we’ve been able to put together a spreadsheet of all tariff legislation in the 109th Congress.

You can download it by clicking on the attachment link below. The file is a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, which you can look at directly or easily import into the database program of your choice.

Here’s what you’ll find inside:

  • The sponsor of each bill
  • The company that asked for it
  • The item receiving the tariff suspension
  • A link to a PDF document that shows the bill itself and the USITC’s analysis.

You’ll also find a couple of other fields that make it easy to compare things like whether the company that asked for the break was in the same state as the member of Congress who introduced the bill.

We’re doing this because even though the Washington Post broke the story yesterday about how these tariff suspensions can be a backdoor way for members to deliver favors to specific companies, there’s only so much information they could cram into one story.

If you’ve got the data yourself, it’s much easier to do additional digging – for instance checking whether the companies’ PACs or executives made campaign contributions to the member who sponsored the bill. And since 142 members of Congress have introduced these bills, it’s a great local story almost anywhere in the country.

For more background on why this is important, check out the original Washington Post story or other Sunlight blogs on this subject from Bill Allison and me.

Have fun digging through the data and let us know if you find anything interesting. Our guiding motto on this is an old favorite of mine: Don’t wait for Congress to investigate, do it yourself.