Walorski, Kind, Sewell, LaHood Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Trade Security Act Aimed at Reforming National Security Tariffs

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Walorski, Kind, Sewell, LaHood Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Trade Security Act Aimed at Reforming National Security Tariffs

Bill Will Give Power to Department of Defense Over Department of Commerce When Determining National Security Threat of Section 232 Tariffs, and Increase Congressional Oversight

WASHINGTON – U.S. Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), and Darin LaHood (R-Ill.) today introduced the Trade Security Act, a bill that would reassert Congressional authority over trade and tariff policy by reforming Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The bill would also redesignate national security threat assessments (in regards to Section 232 tariffs) to the Department of Defense.

Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.) introduced the Senate companion version of the bill today.

“The president is right to seek a level playing field for American businesses and workers, but the best way to do that is with a scalpel, not an axe,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “Overly broad tariffs continue to harm manufacturers in my district and threaten our nation’s economic momentum, and it’s clear the national security tariff process is flawed. This bipartisan bill would restore fairness, transparency, and accountability to the Section 232 process, ensure these tariffs are only used when necessary to protect our national security, and give the American people a voice by strengthening congressional oversight.”

“This Administration’s go-it-alone approach of resolving our trade imbalances has sparked a trade war that is hurting Wisconsin farmers, workers, and families. The National Security tariff process is being misused, at the cost of our rural and local economies. It is long-past time for Congress to reassert its constitutionally-granted power in our Nation’s trade policy and protect our export power,” said Rep. Ron Kind.

“Congress must reassert its trade authority and take steps to protect our manufacturers and farmers from the Trump administration’s reckless and isolationist trade policy. Alabama – where auto manufacturers like Hyundai and Mercedes employ nearly 40,000 hardworking men and women – is proof the Trump administration’s policies are misguided. The auto industry strengthens America; it doesn’t threaten it,” said Rep. Terri Sewell.

“Agriculture is the top industry in the state of Illinois and I have seen firsthand the positive effect that free trade has had on our farming communities and agribusiness. Our agriculture producers and manufacturers need markets and customers to remain competitive in the global economy. While I appreciate the Administration’s efforts to go after bad actors, implementation of Section 232 tariffs has resulted in increased costs for consumers and retaliatory trade actions that have hindered the ability of producers in my district to sell their products and have access to open markets. I look forward to working in a bipartisan fashion to ensure Congress is properly consulted on trade actions of critical importance to our farmers and manufacturers in central and west-central Illinois,” said Rep. Darin LaHood.

A copy of the bill can be found here.

NOTE: The Trade Security Act reforms the Section 232 statute to ensure that (1) any Section 232 actions are based on a national security determination by the Department of Defense; and (2) Congress has a larger role to play in 232 actions. Specifically, this bill will:

  • Bifurcate the existing Section 232 process into an investigation phase, led by the Department of Defense, and a remedy phase, led by the Department of Commerce. Splitting these responsibilities, while guaranteeing consultation between the two departments at all stages of the process, plays to each department’s strengths to ensure that the statute is used for genuine national security purposes.
  • Require the Department of Defense – instead of the Department of Commerce – to justify the national security basis for new tariffs under Section 232 and make the determination about the national security threat posed by imports of certain products. If a threat is found, the Department of Defense would send its report to the president. In the event that the president desires to take action based on the finding of a national security threat, the president would then direct the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Trade Representative, to develop recommendations for how to respond to the threat. After receiving the recommendations of the Secretary of Commerce, the president would decide whether to take action.
  • Increase the role of Congress in the Section 232 process by expanding the process whereby Congress can disapprove of a Section 232 action by passing a joint resolution of disapproval. Currently, Section 232 contains a disapproval resolution process limited only to the disapproval of actions on oil imports, which was inserted into Section 232 in 1980 by Congress in response to concerns about the misuse of the statute. This bill would expand the use of that disapproval resolution process to all types of products. The reformed disapproval process will only apply to future Section 232 actions.
  • Require consultation with Congress throughout the Section 232 process.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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