SEMA Supports Bill Created to Stymie President’s Tariff Power

The Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act (BCTAA) of 2019 has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate to provide U.S. Congress the ability to approve or disapprove of imposing tariffs based on national security concerns.

SEMA supports the legislation, which provides necessary checks and balances to ensure that proper weighing of the overall national interest before tariffs or quotas go into effect, according to the association.

Under current law-Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962-the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) conducts investigations with assistance from the U.S. Department of Defense. This trade statute delegated authority from Congress to the executive branch to put tariffs or quotas on imports that threaten to impair U.S. national security. If the DOC concludes that imports of certain goods threaten national security, the president may proclaim trade actions to adjust those imports.

Historically, Section 232 actions have been limited in scope, targeting a few product lines. However, the current administration has used Section 232 more broadly-imposing sweeping 25 percent tariffs on foreign steel, 10 percent tariffs on imported aluminum, and threatening additional tariffs, including on auto imports.

BCTAA, if passed, would require congressional approval for any potential tariffs that the president seeks to introduce, pursuant to a Section 232 investigation. Congress would have 60 days to pass an approval resolution supporting the proposed action.

The bill also would put the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) in charge of the exclusion process for 232 actions, rather than the DOC.

The bill would allow congress to reconsider tariffs and quotas which have been imposed under Section 232 within the last four years. Congress would be allowed to consider these actions and, if Congress determined not to pass an approval resolution within 75 days after enactment of the BCTAA, those tariffs and quotas would be repealed.

Wisconsin Rep. Mike Gallagher introduced the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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