Bills to limit presidential tariff power introduced
January 30, 2019
Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., Ron Kind, D-Wis., Darin LaHood, R-Ill., and Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., introduced the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019 to require the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
A companion piece of legislation was also introduced in the Senate by Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. and Mark Warner, D-Va.
This legislation provides members of Congress a 60-day period to review any proposals from the president related to tariff adjustments under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
A joint resolution to approve the proposal would qualify for expedited consideration in both chambers. If Congress does not approve a resolution in support of the proposed adjustments, the Section 232 adjustments will not go into effect. The requirement would apply to all future Section 232 actions, in addition to those taken within the last four years.
"The bill would restore the national security intent behind Section 232 by transferring national security investigatory authority from the Department of Commerce to the Department of the Defense," Panetta said in a news release.
"Many of our nation's industries, including the $5 billion agriculture sector on the central coast of California, benefit greatly from fair and reliable international markets," Panetta said.
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"Unfortunately, those markets and industries are experiencing a great amount of unpredictability and uncertainty due to this administration's unilateral imposition of tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act based on alleged threats to our national security. The bipartisan Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act seeks to put guardrails on the administration's broad authority by requiring it to provide evidence of such national security threats and subsequent Congressional approval for Section 232 tariffs.
"As a separate but equal branch of government, it is the responsibility of Congress to ensure that these tariffs are legitimate and supportive of our nation's security and economic interests."
"Agriculture is the top industry in the state of Illinois and I have seen firsthand the positive effect that free trade has had on our farming communities and agribusiness," LaHood said.
"Our agriculture producers and manufacturers need markets and customers to remain competitive in the global economy. While I appreciate the administration's efforts to go after bad trade actors, implementation of Section 232 tariffs has resulted in increased costs for consumers and retaliatory trade actions that have hindered the ability of producers in the Midwest to sell their products and have access to open markets."
A large business coalition including several food and beverage organizations signed a letter supporting the legislation.
"The support of such a broad cross section of industry, agriculture and retail groups says a lot about how harmful steel and aluminum tariffs have been for companies across the United States and for American competitiveness," said Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which released the letter.
"Tariffs based on national security are misguided and the policy needs to be changed so that companies across the country can start to recover from the damaging effects these actions have caused."
Groups signing the letter included the American Beverage Association, the Beer Institute, the Can Manufacturers Institute, Farmers for Free Trade, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the Midwest Food Products Association and the Pet Food Institute. ❖