Alexander Cosponsors Bill to Restore Congress’s Constitutional Role Over Tariffs

Posted on June 6, 2018

“In general, these kinds of tariffs are a big mistake. ... I have urged President Trump instead to focus on reciprocity-- do for our country what our country does for you.”

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 6, 2018 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today cosponsored a bill to restore congressional approval of tariffs involving national security. 

“Tariffs are the constitutional responsibility of Congress. If the president thinks that tariffs are necessary for national security reasons, our bill requires Congress to approve that decision within 60 days.”

Alexander continued: “In general, these kinds of tariffs are a big mistake, and using national security as an excuse is a bigger mistake. There is no state that is likely to be more damaged by tariffs on aluminum and steel than Tennessee, because in many ways we are the nation’s number one auto state—we have more than 900 automotive suppliers in 88 of our 95 counties, one third of our manufacturing jobs are auto jobs and almost all of our auto manufacturing uses aluminum and steel. I have urged President Trump instead to focus on reciprocity—do for our country what our country does for you—instead of imposing tariffs, which are basically higher taxes on American consumers.”

Background:

Alexander cosponsored legislation introduced by Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that would require congressional approval of tariffs proposed by the president under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to address threats to national security. 

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. This legislation restores Congress’s ability to approve certain tariffs if the president believes they are necessary. 

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