Congressional Action on Section 232 Tariffs

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Legislation is likely to be introduced in both the House and the Senate to curb the president’s authority under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to unilaterally levy tariffs for national security purposes. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) introduced last month S. 3013, a bill to require the president to submit tariffs implemented under Section 232 for approval to Congress. The bill had twelve original cosponsors, including five Democrats and seven Republicans, and Sen. Moran (R-KS), Sen. Hassan (D-NH), and Sen. King (I-ME) have since signed on. The administration has used Section 232 authority to levy steel and aluminum tariffs, which has invoked retaliation against U.S. agriculture from the EU, Canada, Mexico, Turkey, and China.

It’s expected that Rep. Mike Gallagher will introduce a companion bill on the House side. Under the bill, lawmakers would have 60 days to review the proposed tariff action and would also have the ability to fast-track approval through both chambers.

During Senate Farm Bill debate, Sen. Corker proposed attempted to get S. 3013 into the bill as amendment, but Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) blocked the amendment. It’s worth noting that Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts (R-KS) preferred the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade issues in the Senate, to consider the amendment as a standalone bill (Senate Ag. Committee Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) agrees with Sen. Roberts, believing the Corker Amendment could divide the Senate).

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