A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators on Wednesday introduced legislation that would compel President Donald Trump to get congressional approval before imposing tariffs on the grounds of national security.
The bill, introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and other nine senators, would require the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under the Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
The Trump administration has used the obsolete law to unilaterally impose additional tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, drawing strong opposition from the domestic business community and U.S. trading partners.
"While we all agree on the need to ensure (that) the international trade system is fair for American workers, companies and consumers, unfortunately, the administration is abusing the Section 232 authority delegated to the president by Congress," Corker said Wednesday in a statement.
"Making claims regarding national security to justify what is inherently an economic question not only harms the very people we all want to help and impairs relations with our allies but also could invite our competitors to retaliate," he argued.
The European Union (EU), Canada, Mexico and other trading partners have announced retaliation against the United States over its tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. "Our bipartisan bill would make sure Congress has a key oversight role if a president imposes tariffs under the claim of national security reasons," said Heidi Heitkamp, a Democratic Senator from the state of North Dakota.
"Huge economic policy decisions like tariffs shouldn't be taken lightly, and Congress should serve as a needed check to make sure we aren't losing out in the end," she said.
Jeff Flake, a Republican Senator from the state of Arizona, said that the negative impact of the Trump administration's proposed tariffs is already being felt by workers and businesses across the country.
"Congress ought to assert leadership in this situation and take away the 'matches' the president seems intent on using to ignite a dangerous trade war. I encourage my colleagues to promptly pass this legislation and push back against ill-conceived protectionist measures," Flake said in a statement.
Major U.S. business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Retail Federation (NRF), also expressed their support for Corker's bill.
"There needs to be a more appropriate balance on trade policy between Congress and the executive branch," NRF Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French said in a statement.
"With the threat of a global trade war, Congress must step in before the U.S. economy suffers, American jobs are lost and families are forced to pay more for everyday products," he added.