Congress Looks to Reclaim Sec. 232 Powers

Date: June 25, 2019

Congress is looking to develop legislation that will reassert the power of Section 232 tariffs to themselves, weakening the president’s authority to impose them.


Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) is leading the push for control over tariffs used for national-security purposes. He’s openly stated that Congress has given the White House too much power over the course of history. President Donald Trump has used Section 232 on steel and aluminum imports, much to the dismay of congressmen and manufacturers, and threatens to use it again on auto imports.


“It adds up to something pretty simple: Congress has delegated too much authority to the president of the United States," Grassley told reporters June 11. He said that he expects a bill to be ready “pretty soon” and that it will need a strong vote in the Senate to prepare for the president’s response to the legislation.


Despite Grassley’s acknowledgement that Congress may get in a heated tussle with the White House over the legislation, the senator noted that their actions are in response to an imbalance of branch powers, and not a direct attack on President Trump himself.


“This is about the presidency and not the president,” he said the next day. “Congress has been too liberal, not just in tariffs, but in many, many areas in delegating too much of its legislative authority.”


Members of the Senate Committee on Finance have come out to support a redistribution of Sec. 232 powers.


“Misusing this trade tool not only hurts our exports and our manufacturers, but also our consumers, and I'm hopeful the Senate Finance Committee takes action on this legislation,” Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) said.


Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Rob Portman (R-OH), who are also both members of the committee, put out similar bills this year to reclaim the power to impose Sec. 232 tariffs. Toomey said he hopes a markup will be finished “in the coming weeks.”

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