Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., introduced a bill Tuesday that would enhance Congress’ role in decisions by the U.S. government to impose tariffs on imported goods.
The Reclaiming Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019 would require congressional approval for national security tariffs, which could last for no longer than 120 days unless Congress authorizes the action through an affirmative vote. The provision would apply directly to tariffs imposed by the president — who would retain authority to impose new or additional tariffs for national security purposes — under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday rejected the American Institute for International Steel’s bid to overturn President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel imports, resulting in the Section 232 tariffs on steel remaining in place.
The legislation introduced by Murphy (pictured above) also would require the United States Trade Representative to provide Congress with clear goals and a strategy behind any proposed tariff action and provides Congress a mechanism to block the tariff through a joint resolution of disapproval, which is subject to presidential veto and congressional override. The provision would apply to tariffs imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Sunday opened an electronic portal to request exclusions from the third tranche of Section 301 tariffs against China that covered $200 billion worth of goods based on 2017 import value.
Murphy’s bill additionally would require the International Trade Commission to provide Congress with analyses of proposed tariff actions and for the administration to formally consult with relevant congressional committees before taking a tariff action.
The National Retail Federation said Tuesday in a press release it supported Murphy’s legislation, which is a companion to a bill introduced in March by Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Tom Carper, D-Del.
“We agree with the need to deliver fair and balanced trade deals, but taxing Americans isn’t the answer — especially without a single vote from Congress,” said David French, NRF’s senior vice president for government relations. “At a time when American businesses and consumers are facing unprecedented tariffs imposed unilaterally, it’s time to reexamine the appropriate balance on trade policy between Congress and the executive branch.”