By a vote of 88 to 11 Wednesday, the Senate adopted a non-binding motion giving Congress a say before the president can levy tariffs for national security purposes under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said they will continue to push for a binding vote on legislation they introduced in June to require congressional approval of national security-designated tariffs.
“In today’s polarized Washington, rarely do we see broad, bipartisan consensus on an issue,” said Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “But today, the Senate spoke loud and clear by overwhelmingly expressing support for our efforts to ensure Congress plays its appropriate role in the implementation of national security-designated tariffs. Tariffs are a tax on the American people, and as the U.S. economy and American businesses and consumers begin to feel the damaging effects of incoherent trade policy, I believe support for our legislation will only grow. We will continue to push for a binding vote and are hopeful one will be scheduled in the near future.”
“The administration is wrong to use ‘national security’ as a pretext to impose taxes on steel and aluminum from our closest allies,” said Toomey. “These taxes are hurting workers, consumers, and companies in Pennsylvania and across the country. It’s time for Congress to reassert its constitutional responsibility on trade and today’s bipartisan vote shows that there is a way forward to accomplish this.”
“Today, the Senate issued a clear rebuke of this administration’s trade policy,” said Flake. “This vote represents the strongest and most straightforward message this chamber has delivered against the administration’s abuse of trade authority. Imposing tariffs on products from allies that pose no threat to our national security is just plain wrong. I will continue to push for binding legislation that requires congressional approval of national security-designated tariffs. We have to rein in abuse of presidential authority and restore Congress’ constitutional authority in this regard.”
Corker, Toomey and Flake have been seeking an up-or-down vote on their legislation since June. Their first attempt to schedule a vote was blocked by Senate leadership and the most recent attempt was blocked by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).