Heitkamp, Corker lead effort in proposing bill on national security-designated tariffs
June 8, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Bob Corker (R-TN) today led a bipartisan group of eight other senators in introducing legislation to require congressional approval of tariffs designated for national security reasons.
The administration last week announced steel and aluminum tariffs on many U.S. allies, including Mexico, Canada, and the European Union, using unprecedented action to claim the tariffs are for national security reasons.
Heitkamp and Corker's bill would require the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. For a 60-day period following submission, legislation to approve the proposal would 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, including the recent steel and aluminum tariffs.
The senators will offer their bill as an amendment to the defense authorization legislation which the Senate will soon debate.
"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."
"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."
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The new legislation comes after Heitkamp facilitated a meeting earlier today between several top North Dakota agriculture leaders and the Mexican Ambassador to the United States to discuss trade and the ongoing renegotiation of NAFTA. They also discussed the president's tariffs on aluminum and steel that were imposed last week on allies like Mexico and Canada. Such actions hurt discussions on NAFTA and create more uncertainty for North Dakota's farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers.