Senators Pressure Nominee to Release Auto Sec. 232 Report

Date: June 11, 2019

Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Doug Jones (D-AL) pushed Nazak Nikakhtar, the nominated undersecretary of commerce for industry and security, to release a study that gives President Donald Trump the grounds to impose Section 232 auto tariffs for national security reasons.

Toomey told Nikakhtar in a Senate Banking Committee nomination hearing on June 5 that the members wouldn’t be able to determine how qualified she will be in her future position without seeing the report.

"The post to which you have been nominated obviously has a very significant national security component," Toomey said. "Your signature recent effort in this space is that report, and it's hard for me to understand how senators can properly judge your qualifications without being able to read that report. I understand that is not in your direct control but it's important."

Nikakhtar said that the report is now in the hands of the president and that the president needs to make the call on releasing the report. Toomey and Jones later asked how the Defense Department contributed to the study. She responded that the department didn’t go into detail about what needs to be done in automaker research and development to diminish national security concerns.

The American Shipper reported that Jones expressed concerns that the tariffs on foreign automobiles and auto parts will have a devastating impact on his state.

“My state is sitting on edge right now,” he said.

Nikakhtar was nominated by the president in April to replace the now resigned Mira Radielovic Ricardel, who left her position the same month. Nikakhtar will need to be approved by the Senate to officially take on the role as undersecretary. But Politico reported that Toomey is still deciding on the matter.

"Regarding the auto report, it's not about the administration allowing him to read the report, it's about following statute that requires the report to be made public," a spokesperson for Toomey said.

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