Support Congressional Approval for Section 232 Designations

Letter: Congressional Trade Authority ActSupport Congressional Approval for Section 232 DesignationsCongress alone has the authority to regulate commerce.

Agriculture, Budget & Tax,  | Data & Documents
Jan 30, 2019  | 3 min read | Print Article

On Wednesday, Taxpayers for Common Sense joined with 37 other organizations to urge members of Congress to support requiring Congressional approval before the President imposes tariffs or quotas that are determined to impair national security. The entire letter is available below, and can be downloaded here.

Dear Member of Congress:

On behalf of the millions of taxpayers, consumers, farmers, and businesses represented by our 38 organizations in all 50 states, we urge your support for the bicameral, bipartisan “Congressional Trade Authority Act.” This legislation would amend the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to require Congressional approval before the President adjusts imports – often through tariffs or quotas – that are determined to impair national security.

Under this reform, any potential tariffs to be applied under Section 232 would be submitted to Congress and taken up within 60 days via an expedited procedure to ensure timely consideration. The bill would redefine the currently overly broad “national security” designation for 232 investigations to goods involving military equipment, energy resources, and critical infrastructure while also transferring investigative authority to the Department of Defense.

A four-year reach-back mechanism would capture recent trade decisions and bring them in line with this improved approach. And the bill would require the International Trade Commission (ITC) to administer an exclusion process that would apply to all importers of specific items for future Section 232 actions.

These commonsense reforms would reduce the misuse of alleged national security threats for costly, protectionist ends and help more appropriately balance power between the legislative and executive branches.

Ongoing trade uncertainty and harsh new tariffs are a serious threat to consumers and the economy that could undermine recent growth. Already, agriculture exports like soy beans have experienced significant losses. The cost of automobiles, both those imported and assembled in the U.S., could soar by an added $1,262 to $5,089. Numerous industries, such as boat and farm implement manufacturers, have also seen tariffs increase costs, eroding their profitability. This pain promises to grow worse – and to spread to all corners of the economy and family budgets.

Congress needs to take urgent action to stabilize our precarious trade environment. Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority to impose tariffs and regulate foreign commerce. This is an essential power that Congress should use to prevent damaging trade policies that could hurt our economy, farmers, American workers, and consumers. We support this and other efforts to restore Congressional powers over tariffs and other barriers to trade.

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We applaud Senators Toomey (R-PA), Warner (D-VA), Sasse (R-NE), and Hassan (D-NH) along with Representatives Gallagher (R-WI), Kind (D-WI), LaHood (R-IL), and Panetta (D-CA) for their bipartisan leadership on this important issue. We strongly urge all Members of  Congress to cosponsor the “Congressional Trade Authority Act” and work toward its swift enactment.

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