Congress bill would reduce president’s power to levy import tariffs

by Bamidele Ogunberu Posted on February 1st, 2019

Washington: Bipartisan US lawmakers introduced the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act Wednesday to limit the president’s power to levy import tariffs under the guise of national security.

The bill amends sections of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, specifically Section 232, which gives the president the ability to impose duties for national security concerns. In 2018 the US levied import tariffs on aluminum and steel from outside countries like Canada and Mexico. Free trade advocates have pushed back against the rising supply chain costs from those duties and the impact on the national economy.

The bipartisan bill would require Congressional approval within 60 days of any tariffs imposed by the president for national security reasons. In order to still safeguard national security, the new legislation also gives the Department of Defense authority to determine national security concerns in Section 232 by replacing the Department of Commerce.

Lawmakers have been pressured to take some action on the president’s ability to levy import tariffs especially since the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement signed last November would see limited potential unless Congress pushes through legislation to remove retaliatory tariffs.

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