Toomey makes new push to tame Trump on tariffs | Thursday Morning Coffee

Good Thursday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

With a purported deal to bring thousands of manufacturing jobs back to Wisconsin from Taiwan and the Trump White House under pressure to make a deal to end a trade war with China, Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Senate are now turning up the heat on trade as well.

A new bill co-sponsored by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., would give Congress a bigger say over tariffs imposed for national security reasons. The bill, also co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., is the reintroduced version of a bill that Toomey co-sponsored last year with former Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. 

The bill requiresthe president to secure approval from Congress before he takes trade actions (tariffs, quotas, etc.) under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Congress then has 60 days to review the president’s proposal, which would be guaranteed expedited consideration and an up-or-down vote in the House and Senate. The bill also requires Congress to approve any Section 232 actions imposed within the last four years, including the tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum,” Toomey’s office said.

The updated bill also:

  • Includes provisions designed to restore national security intent to the use of Section 232. The bill incorporates a definition of national security into the statute and requires the Department of Defense to conduct future Section 232 investigations. Currently, the Department of Commerce makes Section 232 determinations and defines national security on a case-by-case basis.
  • Requires the International Trade Commission (ITC) to report to Congress on the downstream impact of recent and future Section 232 actions. It also mandates that the ITC administer product-wide exclusions for any future Section 232 actions.

“Tariffs on steel and aluminum imported into the United States are taxes paid by American consumers. The imposition of these taxes, under the false pretense of national security (Section 232), is weakening our economy, threatening American jobs, and eroding our credibility with other nations. I’ve seen, first-hand, the damage these taxes are causing across Pennsylvania,” Toomey said in a statement released by his office.

Warner added that the United States “[needs] to be tough on China’s unfair and illegal trade practices. But we need to work with our allies to do it. President Trump has strained our relationships with key allies and partners by abusing the authority that Congress granted him and stretching the concept of ‘national security’ beyond credulity.

Other Senate co-sponsors of the bill include U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Ron Johnson, R-Wisc.; Angus King, I-Maine; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.

A companion House bill is being sponsored by Wisconsin U.S. Reps. Mike Gallagher (R) and and Ron Kind (D).

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