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Congress Should Act Now to Limit Trump’s Power to Wage Trade Wars and Impose Tariffs

Posted June 29, 2018

Under Economic Issues, International Trade Issues

(Andrew Wilford – National Taxpayers Union Foundation via USA Today)

Over a hundred House Republicans wrote a letter to President Donald Trump signaling their disapproval of broad steel and aluminum tariffs, and multiple Senators grumbled about using Section 232 to justify automobile tariffs. One would almost be led to think that Congress was powerless to do anything about a president’s trade actions.

But what Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away. Past presidents have not used Section 232 so irresponsibly — prior to the current administration, Section 232 was used only to place embargoes on crude oil from Iran in 1979 and Libya in 1982. Congress should consider whether Section 232 has become too politicized, and revoke these trade powers before more damaging import taxes can be levied.

Congress has other options to rein in Section 232 powers as well. In the past, Congress has amended the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to give itself the power to immediately nullify Section 232 actions restricting imports of petroleum with a simple resolution. Simply expanding the scope of products subject to Congressional disapproval resolutions would go a long way towards restoring Congressional accountability to Section 232 actions. Click here to read more.