WASHINGTON (Rahnuma) Three U.S. senators introduced legislation on Wednesday that would change the process that the Trump administration is using to impose tariffs on imports from other economies.
The legislation, introduced by Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, Democratic Senator Doug Jones of Alabama and Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, would overhaul Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
Section 232, which provides a tool for the president and the Congress to address what they consider to be threats to national security, has been frequently adopted by the Trump administration.
The administration has used Section 232 to unilaterally impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, as well as launch import-related investigations, drawing strong opposition from the domestic business community and major U.S. trading partners.
The proposed legislation would update Section 232 to allow a bigger role for the U.S. Department of Defense in determining whether imports coming into the country threaten its national security.
The new bill will also see the Congress play a larger role in deciding when to levy tariffs based on concerns of national security.
“I have repeatedly expressed concerns about the misuse of the Section 232 statute to impose tariffs on automobiles and auto parts, and its impact on Ohio jobs and the U.S. economy as a whole,” Portman was quoted by The Hill newspaper as saying.
“I know that misusing our trade tools not only hurts our exports and our manufacturers, but also our consumers, so I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation,” he said.
Trump signed proclamations in March imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum pursuant to Section 232.
Two months later, Trump instructed the U.S. Department of Commerce to launch an investigation into automobile imports under Section 232, which may lead to an increase in tariffs of up to 25 percent.
Those protectionist moves met with retaliatory tariffs, hitting American manufacturers and farmers, among others.
Responding to the proposed legislation to revise Section 232, Joshua Bolten, president and CEO of Business Roundtable, an association of executives of leading U.S. companies, said “it furthers the important goal of preventing misuse of Section 232 to restrict trade inappropriately.”
“Section 232 is intended to be used to combat real national security threats — not as an excuse to raise blanket tariffs on other countries,” Bolten said in a statement.
Last month, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a non-binding motion to give Congress a role in deciding whether tariffs should be imposed on the ground of national security under Section 232.
“Tariffs are a tax on the American people, and as the U.S. economy and American businesses and consumers begin to feel the damaging effects of incoherent trade policy, I believe support for our legislation will only grow,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker said.