Alexander: Imposing Tariffs is Like Shooting Ourselves in Both Feet at Once

Posted on July 11, 2018

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Click here to view Alexander’s remarks after today’s vote.

“I have said to the President, we agree on taxes. We agree on regulations, we agree on judges. We're proud of having the best economy in 18 years, the lowest employment rate that anybody else can remember, but these tariffs are a big mistake. They will take us in the wrong direction.”

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2018 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said on the Senate floor that “imposing these tariffs is like trying to solve a problem by shooting ourselves in both feet at once.”

Alexander voted with 87 other senators for a proposal introduced by Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that is a non-binding show of support for congressional approval of tariffs that address threats to national security.

Alexander said: “The administration has imposed tariffs on aluminum and steel and now other products, provoking a response by tariffs on soybeans and other products grown and manufactured in our country. In general, these tariffs are a big mistake and using national security as an excuse to impose them is an even bigger mistake. I have urged President Trump instead to focus on reciprocity. Tell other countries ‘do for our country what we do for you.’”

Alexander continued: “I've worked for 40 years to bring the auto industry to Tennessee. It has done more than anything to raise our standard of living, to raise family incomes. Tariffs will lower our standard of living. They will hurt our state more than almost any other state. I've said to the president as respectfully and as effectively as I can, ‘Mr. President, we agree on taxes. We agree on regulations, we agree on judges. We're proud of having the best economy in 18 years, the lowest employment rate that anybody else can remember, but these tariffs are a big mistake. They will take us in the wrong direction.’ I have not been successful in talking with the president about this, but I intend to keep trying. There are other and better ways to persuade our trading partners to do for us what we do for them instead of shooting ourselves in both feet at once, which is what we do when we impose these tariffs.”

Alexander also noted in his remarks today that the Senate is conducting an appropriations process the way it's supposed to be conducted:

“Boy Scouts shouldn't get a merit badge for telling the truth and senators shouldn't get a pat on the back for conducting an appropriations process the way it's supposed to be conducted, but it's worth noting that we're doing it since it's been a long time since we have done it. The right way means that we have had hearings on all these bills, that we've consulted with senators. I know that in our energy and water development bill, Senator Feinstein and I heard from 83 different senators and tried to incorporate their suggestions in our bill. We marked up the bills, unanimously in most cases, but what was missing was allowing the other 69 senators to participate on the floor.”

“We did that this time. Nearly 40 amendments, seven roll call votes. We got off the floor without a cloture vote. That is a motion to cut off debate. We're doing it the way it was supposed to do. That was done by showing something needs to be shown more in the Senate: restraint. Restraint means that when you have a lot of freedom, that doesn't mean you exercise all of your freedoms all at once because nothing will happen.”

Background:

Alexander today voted for the House and Senate to go to Conference on H.R. 5895, the Minibus Appropriations Bill which includes the Senate passed Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch Appropriations Bills.

Alexander also voted for Senator Corker’s motion to instruct conferees with relation to Congressional authority over tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress authority to regulate trade with foreign nations and to impose tariffs. In 1962, Congress delegated some of this authority to the Executive Branch. The motion would encourage conferees to include a provision in the Conference Report to require congressional approval of tariffs that are imposed under the national security provision (Section 232) of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

You can view Alexander’s remarks on the Senate floor today here.

 

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