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January 31, 2019

King Renews Fight to Restore Congressional Authority over ‘National Security’ Tariffs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today announced his support for the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act. The bipartisan legislation, reintroduced this week, would restore Congress’s constitutional trade responsibilities and relieve American consumers of the burdens caused by the Trump administration’s unilateral imposition of sweeping tariffs that affect many U.S. partners and allies. Specifically, the legislation would require congressional approval of tariffs designated under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which grants the President the power to impose tariffs or quotas as needed based on interests of national security. The requirement would apply to all Section 232 actions moving forward, as well as those taken within the past four years.

                “Maine people and our businesses that rely on trade with Canada, or have developed international markets for their products, shouldn’t face roadblocks in their work with our allies and trade partners.  We should be empowering our businesses, not encumbering them,” Senator King said. “Citing national security concerns as a justification to levy tariffs on these allies and trade partners hurts American business and delegitimizes the law’s real intent under the Trade Expansion Act – to keep Americans safe. Congress must take responsibility for our country’s trade policy and bring much-needed balance to executive power.”

The Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act requires the president to secure approval from Congress before he takes trade actions (tariffs, quotas, etc.) under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Congress then has 60 days to review the president’s proposal, which would be guaranteed expedited consideration and an up-or-down vote in the House and Senate. The bill also requires Congress to approve any Section 232 actions imposed within the last four years, including the tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

The updated legislation also includes provisions designed to restore national security intent to the use of Section 232. The bill incorporates a definition of national security into the statute and requires the Department of Defense to conduct future Section 232 investigations. Currently, the Department of Commerce makes Section 232 determinations, and defines national security on a case-by-case basis.

Finally, the bill requires the International Trade Commission (ITC) to report to Congress on the downstream impact of recent and future Section 232 actions. It also mandates that the ITC administer product-wide exclusions for any future Section 232 actions.

Joining Senator King in support of this bill are Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

In the House, a companion version of the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act has been introduced by Congressmen Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) and Ron Kind (D- Wis.).

A one-page summary of the bill can be access here, and a PDF of the legislation is available here   

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