MEMA Applauds Introduction of Bipartisan Congressional Legislation on Section 232 Tariffs

Date: February 7, 2019
MEMA applauds a renewed bipartisan, bicameral congressional effort to reform the process of using national security to impose tariffs on materials and products essential to the competitiveness of U.S. companies. The legislation calls for common-sense fixes to the Section 232 provision that currently allows the president to unilaterally impose tariffs citing national security. The legislation, if passed, would require the Department of Defense to investigate and justify the need for tariffs based on national security, and the Department of Commerce would be charged with developing a recommendation to the president on how to respond. Should the president impose tariffs, Congress would have an opportunity vote on a disapproval resolution on the president’s actions.
 
The Senate bill was introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.). The House bill was introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.).

President Trump has used Section 232 to impose 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum from most countries around the world. MEMA has warned that these tariffs prevent or encumber motor vehicle parts suppliers’ ability to obtain certain types of steel and aluminum and will jeopardize production of critical products made for the U.S. defense industry and destabilize a growing U.S. manufacturing job base.
 
The Trump administration is also conducting an investigation on automobiles and automotive parts under Section 232. These tariffs, if imposed, would adversely impact the success and growth of American manufacturing businesses by placing manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage to their global counterparts and eroding U.S. jobs. Such actions would weaken our nation’s economy by harming U.S. manufacturers of vehicles and vehicle parts and would deter U.S. investments in new innovative technologies. In addition, tariffs on imported parts will lead to increased repair costs, forcing U.S. consumers potentially to forgo necessary repairs and routine maintenance. Foregoing maintenance undermines the fundamental operating safety and efficiency of consumers’ vehicles.
 
The legislation proposed by Senators Portman, Jones and Ernst will protect companies throughout the supply chain that rely on imported goods. These fixes, including additional congressional oversight and more responsibility for the Department of Defense are appropriate, and we congratulate these legislators for their efforts to remedy this problem.
 
For more information about trade issues impact suppliers and MEMA’s advocacy, visit the MEMA Trade Resources Page or contact Catherine Boland.
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