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104th Congress                                            Rept. 104-467
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 2d Session                                                      Part 2
_______________________________________________________________________


 
                 FEDERAL TEA TASTERS REPEAL ACT OF 1996

                                _______


                 March 8, 1996.--Ordered to be printed

_______________________________________________________________________


  Mr. Bliley, from the Committee on Commerce, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2969]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Commerce, to whom was referred the bill 
(H.R. 2969) to eliminate the Board of Tea Experts by repealing 
the Tea Importation Act of 1897, having considered the same, 
report favorably thereon without amendment and recommend that 
the bill do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
Hearings.........................................................     3
Committee Consideration..........................................     3
Rollcall Votes...................................................     3
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     4
Committee on Government Reform and Oversight.....................     4
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     4
Committee Cost Estimate..........................................     4
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................     4
Inflationary Impact Statement....................................     5
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................     5
Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported............     6

                          Purpose and Summary

    This measure repeals the Tea Importation Act of 1897,\1\ 
which: (1) prohibits the importation of tea, except as provided 
under the Act; (2) established the Board of Tea Experts; (3) 
authorizes a program to administer tea importation, which 
currently operates through the Food and Drug Administration 
(FDA); and (4) authorizes the Customs Service to collect a fee 
of 10 cents per hundredweight to pay for the costs of tea 
inspection.
    \1\ 21 U.S.C. Section 41 et seq. (1996).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Tea is also regulated under the Federal Food, Drug, and 
Cosmetic Act (FFDCA),\2\ which prohibits the importation of 
adulterated or misbranded foods such as instant tea, tea, 
coffee, and fish.\3\ Because the safety of tea for human 
consumption is preserved under the FFDCA, the quality standards 
for tea imposed by the Tea Importation Act of 1897 and enforced 
by the FDA are no longer necessary. Repeal of the Tea 
Importation Act of 1897 would end the dual regulation of tea 
that occurs by virtue of the overlap between these two Acts. 
Upon repeal, imported tea would continue to be regulated by the 
FDA in accordance with the FFDCA in the same manner as instant 
tea, coffee, and other imported foods.
    \2\ 21 U.S.C. Section 301 et seq. (1996). Also, the United States 
Department of Agriculture operates programs in addition to the FFDCA 
that regulate the safety of meat and meat products, poultry, and eggs.
    \3\ ``The term `food' means (1) articles used for food or drink for 
man or other animals, (2) chewing gum, and (3) articles used for 
components of any such article.'' 21 U.S.C. Section 321(f) (1996).
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                  Background and Need for Legislation

    The Tea Importation Act of 1897 establishes a program, 
currently administered by the FDA, that governs the importation 
of tea. Under the program, the FDA must: (1) inspect every lot 
of tea offered for import into the United States to determine 
whether it meets applicable quality standards; and (2) certify 
the tea for importation, if it meets the applicable quality 
standards. For example, a company that imports tea might 
receive a shipment, also known as a ``lot,'' from an exporting 
country. Before the company can accept the tea, it must send a 
sample of the shipment to an FDA inspector. The inspector would 
test the tea to determine if it meets the applicable quality 
standard. If it does, then the FDA certifies that shipment of 
tea for import; if it does not, the country exporting the tea 
may be required to take it back, or destroy it. Under the Tea 
Importation Act of 1897, a United States company seeking to 
import tea cannot accept a shipment without this certification 
by the FDA.
    The applicable quality standards for imported tea are set 
by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, who usually 
defers to the standard recommended by the Board of Tea Experts. 
The Board of Tea Experts, established under the Tea Importation 
Act of 1897, is an advisory board to the FDA chartered under 
the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).\4\ The Board meets 
once a year to determine quality standards for imported tea, 
which it provides to the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services. FDA's appropriation for Fiscal Year 1996 prohibits 
allocation of any Federal funds to the Board of Tea Experts.\5\ 
However, the FDA still must comply with the requirements of the 
Tea Importation Act of 1897, i.e., set standards for the 
purity, quality, and fitness of imported tea. Therefore, the 
FDA is soliciting comments to determine standards by which to 
measure the quality of imported teas in order to comply with 
the Tea Importation Act of 1897.
    \4\ 5 U.S.C. app. Section 1 et seq. (1996).
    \5\ Appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and 
Drug Administration, and Related Agency programs for the Fiscal Year 
ending September 30, 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-37, sec. 727, 109 Stat. 328 
(1995).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Tea Importation Act of 1897 also authorizes the Customs 
Service to collect a fee of 10 cents for every hundred pounds 
of tea imported. Currently, the Customs Service continues to 
collect 3.5 cents, and has not implemented the increase as 
provided under the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993. 
The purpose of the fee, which is paid directly into the U.S. 
Treasury, is to cover the implementation costs of the Tea 
Importation Act of 1897.
    The program established under the Tea Importation Act of 
1897 is run separately from, and in addition to, the FDA's 
standard programs for inspection of imported foods as required 
by the FFDCA. Under the FFDCA, the FDA is responsible for the 
safety of imported foods such as tea, instant tea, coffee, and 
fish. The FFDCA prohibits importation of adulterated or 
misbranded foods. Under that Act, foods are considered 
``adulterated'' if, among other things, they: (1) contain 
poisonous substances or unsafe pesticides; (2) were packaged 
under unsanitary conditions; or (3) contain any ``filthy, 
putrid, or decomposed substances.'' \6\ Because the safety of 
imported foods such as tea is preserved under the FFDCA, 
regulation of tea under the Tea Importation Act of 1897 is 
redundant to the extent it preserves the safety of tea for 
human consumption.
    \6\ 21 U.S.C. Section 342 (1996).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The Tea Importation Act of 1897 requires the FDA to enforce 
Federal quality standards for tea, in addition to its 
responsibilities under the FFDCA for the safety of imported 
foods. Tea is the only beverage for which a program requiring 
inspection of every shipment offered for import exists. In 
fact, even the safety of both instant tea and coffee are 
regulated only under the FFDCA.\7\ Repeal of the 1897 Act will 
promote a more efficient FDA, while the safety of imported tea 
will continue to be provided for in the same fashion as the 
safety of other imported foods such as instant tea and coffee.
    \7\ ``Since the law passed in 1897 said nothing about such 
fractions of tea as solubles, the relatively small amounts of instant 
tea and instant tea mixes imported in these forms are not subject to 
the requirements of the Tea Act, but they, like other foods, are 
subject to the requirements of the FDC [Federal Food, Drug, and 
Cosmetic Act] and Fair Packaging and Labeling Acts.'' Tea solubles are 
the parts of tea used for instant tea and instant tea mixes. Robert H. 
Dick and Harold Hopkins, ``Putting Tea to the Taste,'' FDA Consumer at 
18, 22 (September 1974).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                Hearings

    The Committee on Commerce has not held hearings on this 
legislation.

                        Committee Consideration

    On March 6, 1996, the Committee on Commerce met in open 
markup session and ordered H.R. 2929 reported to the House, 
without amendment, by a voice vote, a quorum being present.

                             Rollcall Votes

    Clause 2(l)(2)(B) of rule XI of the Rules of the House 
requires the Committee to list the recorded votes on the motion 
to report legislation and amendments thereto. There were no 
recorded votes taken in connection with ordering H.R. 2969 
reported. The voice votes taken in Committee are as follows:
    Bill: H.R. 2969, Federal Tea Tasters Repeal Act of 1996.
    Motion: Motion by Mr. Bilirakis to discharge the 
Subcommittee on Health and Environment from further 
consideration of H.R. 2969, and provide for its immediate 
consideration by the Full Committee.
    Disposition: Agreed to, by a voice vote.
    Motion: Motion by Mr. Bliley to order H.R. 2969 reported to 
the House.
    Disposition: Agreed to, by a voice vote.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    Pursuant to clause 2(l)(3)(A) of rule XI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the Committee has not held 
oversight or legislative hearings on this legislation.

              Committee on Government Reform and Oversight

    Pursuant to clause 2(l)(3)(D) of rule XI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, no oversight findings have been 
submitted to the Committee by the Committee on Government 
Reform and Oversight.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    In compliance with clause 2(l)(3)(B) of rule XI of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, the Committee states 
that H.R. 2969 would result in no new or increased budget 
authority or tax expenditures or revenues.

                        Committee Cost Estimate

    The Committee adopts as its own the cost estimate prepared 
by the Director of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

                  Congressional Budget Office Estimate

    Pursuant to clause 2(l)(3)(C) of rule XI of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, the following is the cost 
estimate provided by the Congressional Budget Office pursuant 
to section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, March 6, 1996.
Hon. Thomas J. Bliley, Jr.,
Chairman, Committee on Commerce,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
reviewed H.R. 2969, the Federal Tea Tasters Repeal Act of 1996, 
as ordered reported by the Commerce Committee on March 6, 1996. 
CBO estimates that the bill would reduce governmental receipts 
by less than $500,000 in each of the fiscal years 1996 through 
2000. Because enacting H.R. 2969 would affect receipts, pay-as-
you-go procedures would apply to the bill. H.R. 2969 contains 
no intergovernmental or private sector mandates as defined in 
Public Law 104-4 and would impose no direct costs on state, 
local, or tribal governments.
    The Tea Importation Act of 1897 requires tea to be examined 
upon import to the United States, and establishes an 
examination fee to be paid by the importer. H.R. 2969 repeals 
the Tea Importation Act of 1897, eliminating the examination 
requirement and the corresponding fee. Under Public Law 103-66, 
signed August 10, 1993, the amount of the fee for the 
examination of tea imports was raised from 3.5 cents per 
hundred weight to 10 cents per hundred weight of tea imported. 
However, due to an oversight in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, 
U.S. Customs has continued to charge a rate of 3.5 cents per 
hundred weight of the tea, collecting about $70,000 in each of 
the fiscal years 1994 and 1995. Based on information from 
Customs, CBO assumes that this discrepancy will be corrected 
and that Customs will begin collecting the fee at the statutory 
rate of 10 cents per hundred weight. CBO estimates that 
collections of the fee at the 10 cent rate would be 
approximately $200,000 annually. Enacting H.R. 2969 would 
therefore result in a negligible loss of revenue from fee 
collections.
    If you wish further details, please feel free to contact me 
or your staff may wish to contact Stephanie Weiner.
            Sincerely,
                                         June E. O'Neill, Director.

                     Inflationary Impact Statement

    Pursuant to clause 2(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds that H.R. 2969 
would have no inflationary impact.

                      Advisory Committee Statement

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act were created by this 
legislation.

             Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation

                         section 1. short title

    This section provides that the Act may be cited as the 
``Federal Tea Tasters Repeal Act of 1996.''

            section 2. repeal of tea importation act of 1897

    This section repeals the Tea Importation Act (21 U.S.C. 
Section 41 et seq.), and leaves tea to be regulated by the Food 
and Drug Administration according to the Federal Food, Drug, 
and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. Section 301 et seq.).

                       section 3. effective date

    This section provides that the Act shall take effect on the 
date of its enactment.

         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

  In compliance with clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by the 
bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law proposed 
to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, existing law in 
which no change is proposed is shown in roman):

                          TEA IMPORTATION ACT

  [Sec. 1. It shall be unlawful for any person or persons or 
corporation to import or bring into the United States any 
merchandise as tea which is inferior in purity, quality, and 
fitness for consumption to the standards provided in section 
three of this Act, and the importation of all such merchandise 
is prohibited, except as provided in the Harmonized Tariff 
Schedule of the United States.
  [Sec. 2. On or before February 15 of each year, the Secretary 
of Health, Education, and Welfare shall appoint a board, to 
consist of seven members, each of whom shall be an expert in 
teas, and who shall prepare and submit to him standard samples 
of tea. The persons so appointed shall be at all times subject 
to removal by the said Secretary and shall serve for the term 
of one year. Vacancies in the said board occurring by removal, 
death, resignation, or any other cause shall be forthwith 
filled by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare by 
appointment, such appointee to hold for the unexpired term. 
Said board shall appoint a presiding officer, who shall be the 
medium of all communications to or from such board. Each member 
of said board shall receive as compensation the sum of $50 per 
annum, which, together with all necessary expenses while 
engaged upon the duty herein provided, shall be paid by the 
Secretary.
  [Sec. 3. The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, 
upon the recommendation of the board, shall fix and establish 
uniform standards of purity, quality, and fitness for 
consumption of all kinds of teas imported into the United 
States, and shall procure and deposit in the customhouses of 
the ports of New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and such other 
ports as he may determine, duplicate samples of such standards. 
Said Administrator shall procure a sufficient number of other 
duplicate samples of such standards to supply the importers and 
dealers in tea at all ports desiring the same at cost. All 
teas, or merchandise described as tea, of inferior purity, 
quality, and fitness for consumption to such standards shall be 
deemed within the prohibition of the first section hereof.
  [Sec. 4. On making entry at the customhouse of all teas, or 
merchandise described as tea, imported into the United States, 
the importer or consignee shall give a bond to the collector of 
the port that such merchandise shall not be removed from the 
warehouse until released by the collector, after it shall have 
been duly examined with reference to its purity, quality, and 
fitness for consumption. For the purpose of such examination 
samples of each line in every invoice of tea shall be submitted 
by the importer or consignee to the examiner, together with the 
sworn statement of such importer or consignee that such samples 
represent the true quality of each and every part of the 
invoice and accord with the specifications therein contained; 
or in the discretion of the Secretary of Health, Education, and 
Welfare, such samples shall be obtained by the examiner and 
compared by him with the standards established by this Act. In 
cases where said tea, or merchandise described as tea, is 
entered at ports where there is no qualified examiner as 
provided in section seven, the consignee or importer shall in 
the manner aforesaid furnish under oath a sample of each line 
of tea to the collector or other revenue officer to whom is 
committed the collection of duties, and said officer shall also 
draw or cause to be drawn samples of each line in every invoice 
and shall forward the same to a duly qualified examiner as 
provided in said section. The bond required by this section 
shall also be conditioned for the payment of all customhouse 
charges which may attach to such merchandise prior to its being 
released or destroyed (as the case may be) under the provisions 
of this Act.
  [Sec. 5. If, after an examination as provided in section 
four, the tea is found by the examiner to be equal in purity, 
quality, and fitness for consumption to the standards provided, 
and no reexamination shall be demanded by the collector as 
provided in section six, a permit shall at once be granted to 
importer or consignee declaring the tea free from the control 
of the customs authorities; but if on examination such tea, or 
merchandise described as tea, is found, in the opinion of the 
examiner, to be inferior in purity, quality, and fitness for 
consumption to the said standards the importer or consignee 
shall be immediately notified, and the tea, or merchandise 
described as tea, shall not be released by the customhouse, 
unless on a reexamination called for by the importer or 
consignee the finding of the examiner shall be found to be 
erroneous. Should a portion of the invoice be passed by the 
examiner, a permit shall be granted for that portion and the 
remainder held for further examination, as provided in said 
section six.
  [Sec. 6. In case the collector, importer, or consignee shall 
protest against the finding of the examiner, the matter in 
dispute shall be referred for decision to the United States 
Board of Tea Appeals, to consist of three employees of the 
Department of Health, Education, and Welfare to be designated 
by the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. If such 
board shall, after due examination, find the tea in question to 
be equal in purity, quality, and fitness for consumption to the 
proper standards, a permit shall be issued by the collector for 
its release and delivery to the importer; but if upon such 
final reexamination by such board the tea shall be found to be 
inferior in purity, quality, and fitness for consumption to the 
said standards, the importer or consignee shall give a bond, 
with security satisfactory to the collector, to export said 
tea, or merchandise described as tea, out of the limits of the 
United States within a period of six months after such final 
reexamination; and if the same shall not have been exported 
within the time specified, the collector, at the expiration of 
that time, shall cause the same to be destroyed.
  [Sec. 7. The examination provided for shall be made by a duly 
qualified examiner at a port where standard samples are 
established, and where the merchandise is entered at ports 
where there is no qualified examiner, the examination shall be 
made at that one of said ports which is nearest the port of 
entry, and that for this purpose samples of the merchandise, 
obtained in the manner prescribed by section four of this Act, 
shall be forwarded to the proper port by the collector or chief 
officer at the port of entry. In all cases of examination or 
reexamination of teas, or merchandise described as tea, by 
examiners or the United States Board of Tea Appeals under the 
provisions of this chapter, the purity, quality, and fitness 
for consumption of the same shall be tested according to the 
usage and customs of the tea trade, including the testing of an 
infusion of the same in boiling water, and, if necessary, 
chemical analysis.
  [Sec. 8. In cases of reexamination of teas, or merchandise 
described as teas, by the United States Board of Tea Appeals in 
pursuance of the provisions hereof, samples of the tea, or 
merchandise described as tea, in dispute, for transmission to 
such board for its decision, shall be put up and sealed by the 
examiner in the presence of the importer or consignee if he so 
desires, and transmitted to such board, together with a copy of 
the finding of the examiner, setting forth the cause of 
condemnation and the claim or ground of the protest of the 
importer relating to the same, such samples, and the papers 
therewith, to be distinguished by such mark that the same may 
be identified. The decision of such board shall be in writing, 
signed by them, and transmitted, together with the record and 
samples, within three days after the rendition thereof, to the 
collector, who shall forthwith furnish the examiner and the 
importer or consignee with a copy of said decision or finding. 
The United States Board of Tea Appeals shall be authorized to 
obtain the advice, when necessary, of persons skilled in the 
examination of teas, who shall each receive for his services in 
any particular case a compensation not exceeding $5.
  [Sec. 9. No imported teas which have been rejected by a 
customs examiner or by the United States Board of Tea Appeals, 
and exported under the provisions of this Act, shall be 
reimported into the United States under the penalty of 
forfeiture for a violation of this prohibition.
  [Sec. 10. The Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare 
shall have the power to enforce the provisions of this Act by 
appropriate regulations.
  [Sec. 11. That teas actually on shipboard for shipment to the 
United States at the time of the passage of this Act shall not 
be subject to the prohibition hereof, but the provisions of the 
Act entitled ``An Act to prevent the importation of adulterated 
and spurious teas,'' approved March second, eighteen hundred 
and eighty-three, shall be applicable thereto.
  [Sec. 12. That the Act entitled ``An Act to prevent the 
importation of adulterated and spurious teas,'' approved March 
second, eighteen hundred and eighty-three, is hereby repealed, 
such repeal to take effect on the date on which this Act goes 
into effect.
  [Sec. 13. No tea or merchandise described as tea shall be 
examined for importation into the United States, or released by 
the Customs Service, under the Tea Importation Act unless the 
importer or consignee of such tea or merchandise has paid, 
before the examination, a fee in an amount equal to--
          [(1) 10 cents for each hundred weight or fraction 
        thereof of the tea or merchandise; or
          [(2) the approximate cost of the examinations;
whichever amount is less. Such fee shall be deposited into the 
Treasury of the United States as miscellaneous receipts.]