President Donald Trump’s tariffs are threatening both global relations and the American economy — and Capitol Hill may be prepping to curb the chaos.
As soon as Tuesday, senators could introduce legislation that would require Trump to get approval from Congress before implementing tariffs for reasons tied to national security, a Section 232 authority of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is spearheading the legislation, and according to The Hill, he wants to see the bill attached to a defense policy bill the Senate has on its plate for this week.
“If a president decided he was going to invoke 232 and declare something a national security threat, he would still go through all the processes he goes through now, but in the end, Congress will have to approve it,” Corker told The Hill.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has introduced broader legislation that would require approval for any tariffs, and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has signed on to back that legislation.
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“Congress should assert its constitutional responsibility and lead on trade policy so Americans keep access to affordable goods and services, and the opportunity to sell our products abroad,” Toomey said on Twitter last week.
Acting on behalf of the retail industry — which has largely expressed concern over the tariff and trade scenario — the National Retail Federation is calling on lawmakers to pass the legislation.
“The Constitution is clear: Congress has the authority to regulate commerce and oversee trade,” NRF SVP for government relations David French said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s time for Congress to exert its authority and play a leading role in mitigating escalating trade tensions with our strongest allies.”
Trump’s action to move forward with tariffs on China and to remove the exemption from steel tariffs for the EU, Canada and Mexico has elicited retaliatory responses from each party, and the resulting tariffs hitting back at the United States threaten to weaken domestic manufacturing and cost the consumer more. As such, brands, retailers, farmers and other stakeholders are up in arms over the back-and-forth tariff battle.
“There needs to be a more appropriate balance on trade policy between Congress and the executive branch, and we applaud Sens. Corker and Toomey for working to achieve that,” French said. “With the threat of a global trade war, Congress must step in before the U.S. economy suffers, American jobs are lost and families are forced to pay more for everyday products.”
Congress may not get its moment to weigh in, however, as the likelihood of Trump agreeing to legislation that reins in his authority is unlikely, and according to The Hill, the bill would need support from two-thirds of both the Senate and the House to skirt a presidential veto.