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S.3013 - Should the president need the approval of Congress before applying tariffs?

Congress man and Senator Bob Corker speaking in front of the American flag.

A bill to amend the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to require Congressional approval before the President adjusts imports that are determined to threaten to impair national security.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe the President should get Congressional approval before imposing tariffs in the name of national security. If the President believes trade policies are affecting national security, Congressional approval should be required before any tariffs are applied.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe the President should not need Congressional approval when imposing tariffs in the name of national security. The President should keep his ability to negotiate better deals on behalf of Americans without Congressional scrutiny.

S.3013 would require the president to submit to a report to Congress detailing any proposal to adjust imports. After such report has been submitted, the proposal enters a 60-day period where Congress can debate and vote. Any such proposal has the opportunity to be expedited.

President Trump has introduced a number of tariffs via whats referred to as "Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962," which gives the executive branch the ability to conduct investigations to “determine the effects on the national security of imports.” After such investigations the President can decide to use his authority to adjust any import tariffs.

In January 2018, he introduced tariffs on solar panels, and in June he imposed a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum to the E.U., Canada, and Mexico. These tariffs caused other countries to implement retaliatory tariffs on some U.S. goods. On July, Canada and China both imposed matching retaliatory tariffs to the U.S., on June 5th, Mexico targeted more than $3 billion on tariffs in american steel, pork, cheese, and other products, marking the beginnings of what could eventually become a trade war. According to the New York Times, this trade war has escalated from affecting 18 products to over 10,000.

Retaliatory tariffs are causing American companies, such as Harley-Davidson, to move production elsewhere. Boeing is expected to lose out on a $18 billion deal it has been negotiating with China.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a 1936 study shows that these import tariffs ultimately act as a export tax, meaning Americans could end up paying the tab.

“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 Senator Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and sponsor of the legislation. “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 Senator 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.”

Some argue that the market indicates that the trade war will ultimately yield positive results.

“I think the market is right in assuming this is part of a process, and that ultimately, because all parties have so much to lose from this, is going to focus minds and you will get a better outcome,” said Allianz SE Chief Economic Adviser Mohamed El-Erian during an interview with FOX Business.

President Trump, in an attempt to calm down farmers being hurt by the trade war, blames previous yields as poor and says he is waging this war to even the playing field.


Sponsored by: Sen. Corker, Bob [R-TN].

Cosponsored by: 8 Rep / 6 Dem / 1 Ind.

See list of cosponsors.

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