In the current bill, the ITC eliminated 385 products because of objections from domestic producers. Even so, the bill includes 145 items that are made domestically, according to a Reuters analysis of ITC records.
An ITC spokeswoman declined to comment on the commission's actions beyond pointing to the recommendations it ultimately made.
Several companies told Reuters that the ITC was receptive to their concerns. "I'm just glad we got wind of it when we did and stopped it," said Anson Martin, a vice president at Illinois battery company Inventus Power, which successfully objected to the inclusion of 18 types of batteries in the bill. He said he learned of the proposed tariff reductions through his trade association.
Other companies said they were not aware they had missed a chance to defend their interests.
Alan Peppel, president of Massachusetts-based knife manufacturer Dexter-Russell, said he had no idea until receiving a call from Reuters that Congress was poised to eliminate tariffs on a type of kitchen knife his company produces.
Kansas City dentist Don Closson, who makes athletic mouth guards at a Colorado factory, and Paul Cacciotti, who manufactures fingernail clippers in upstate New York, also said they were unaware the bill contained items competing with those they make.
"Many American manufacturing companies have been put out of business due to free trade agreements and tariff reductions, and you think the politicians would have learned a lesson from past experience," Cacciotti said.
The bill's supporters say that businesses have only themselves to blame if they do not defend their interests in Washington.
"If somebody doesn't know about something, that's a shame, but that might mean that they didn't take steps to stay informed," said Stephen Lamar, executive vice president of the American Apparel and Footwear Association.
Norman Cook, executive vice president of Genfoot America does not think it is that simple. Genfoot, which employs 200 people at a New Hampshire boot factory, managed to block 22 types of footwear on the grounds that they were too similar to products the company makes domestically. But the bill still includes 42 other types of boots and shoes that Genfoot sees as a threat to its business.
"It's supposed to help manufacturers, not eliminate them," Cook said.