Senate panel to take up tariff legislation
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) on Tuesday said that the Senate Finance Committee will take up legislation on tariffs implemented under the guise of national security.
Hatch was tightlipped about what would be in the bill, noting he was still working it out, but his comments come amid growing concern on Capitol Hill about President Trump’s trade policies.
“Actually I do plan on moving some tariff legislation in the committee,” Hatch said after he left a closed-door caucus lunch.
Pressed when he would bring up the bill or if it would narrow the national security provisions of the trade law, known as Section 232, Hatch demurred.
“Not necessarily. We’ll have to wait and see. I haven’t quite formulated it yet. But we’re going to try to get some of these things resolved in a way that makes sense,” he said.
Trump’s tariff decisions are coming under growing fire on Capitol Hill, where Republicans on the Finance Committee grilled Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on the issue last week.
The European Union announced that it would implement tariffs on American goods in response to the steel and aluminum tariffs Trump slapped on the EU, Canada and Mexico.
Republicans have been wary of moving legislation to rein in Trump’s tariff authority warning that the months leading into a midterm election isn’t the time to pick a fight with the White House.
But the GOP is now renewing conversations about potential legislative action.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Republicans discussed a vote on tariffs, potentially on a farm bill currently on the Senate floor, during lunch but hadn’t reached a decision.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, told reporters after the lunch that Hatch has told members the panel would take up legislation but indicated details were still in flux.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a member of the Finance Committee, earlier on Tuesday told reporters that he wants a hearing and a vote on legislation tightening Section 232.
“I think we should have a markup of legislation that narrows the scope of 232 to what I think is the original intent,” Portman said. “We talked about this last week in the hearing … and I got some answers from [Ross] on the record that I think are consistent with a markup of a tighter 232. I think its too broad right now.”