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Senators unveil bill requiring congressional approval on tariffs

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Ten U.S. Senators stepped forward this week to try to curtail President Trump’s proposed tariffs  through new legislation. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) introduced the bill requiring congressional approval of tariffs designated under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

The bill requires the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under Section 232. For a 60-day period following submission, legislation to approve the proposal will qualify for expedited consideration, guaranteeing the opportunity for debate and a vote. The requirement would apply to all Section 232 actions moving forward, as well as those taken within the past two years.

“While we all agree on the need to ensure the international trade system is fair for American workers, companies, and consumers, unfortunately, the administration is abusing the Section 232 authority delegated to the president by Congress,” said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Making claims regarding national security to justify what is inherently an economic question not only harms the very people we all want to help and impairs relations with our allies but also could invite our competitors to retaliate. If the president truly believes invoking Section 232 is necessary to protect the United States from a genuine threat, he should make the case to Congress and to the American people and do the hard work necessary to secure congressional approval.”

“For North Dakota farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers, exporting is critical, but the administration’s wrongheaded trade policies are putting their livelihoods in jeopardy,” said Heitkamp. “Our bipartisan bill would make sure Congress has a key oversight role if a president imposes tariffs under the claim of national security reasons. Right now, the president is implementing tariffs on our allies, like Canada, Mexico, and the EU – countries that don’t pose national security threats but which are critical trading partners for North Dakota. The implications of these tariffs are significant – on our own producers and businesses because of retaliatory tariffs we’re now seeing and on our relationships with our allies who could use the same claims of national security to impose tariffs on us. Huge economic policy decisions like tariffs shouldn’t be taken lightly, and Congress should serve as a needed check to make sure we aren’t losing out in the end.”

Other members of Congress have said the bill is a long shot. President Trump is not pleased with the Senators’ effort and some Republicans have said they wouldn’t want to cross Trump by signing the bill.

Tags: Trade, Agribusiness, Agriculture
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