Hatch threatens legislative action to rein in Trump tariffs

Hatch threatens legislative action to rein in Trump tariffs
© Greg Nash

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchUtah New Members 2019 Congress braces for high-drama lame duck Trump to award Medal of Freedom to Babe Ruth, Elvis, Scalia, Hatch MORE (R-Utah) on Tuesday blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpAvenatti ‘still considering’ presidential run despite domestic violence arrest Mulvaney positioning himself to be Commerce Secretary: report Kasich: Wouldn’t want presidential run to ‘diminish my voice’ MORE's trade policies and vowed to move forward with legislation that would rein in his trade authority if the imposition of tariffs don't subside. 

The Senate Finance Committee chairman urged the Trump administration to rethink its global trade strategy, arguing that billions in tariffs are hurting U.S. consumers and businesses and walling off foreign markets from American exports. 


"If the administration continues forward with its misguided and reckless reliance on tariffs, I will work to advance trade legislation to curtail presidential trade authority," Hatch said during a speech on the Senate floor.

"I am discussing legislative options with colleagues both on and off the Finance committee and I will continue to do so," he said.

So far, the Senate has held a test vote on a measure authored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerOvernight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Border deployment 'peaked' at 5,800 troops | Trump sanctions 17 Saudis over Khashoggi killing | Senators offer bill to press Trump on Saudis | Paul effort to block Bahrain arms sale fails Washington Post publisher: Trump officials, Saudis asking world to 'take their word' on Khashoggi murder Corker: 'A price needs to be paid' for Khashoggi's murder MORE (R-Tenn.) that would give Congress more power over the president's decisions to levy Section 232 tariffs over national security.

An identical House bill has been introduced, as well. 

Hatch, who has been critical of Trump's barrage of tariffs, said that the administration’s recent actions "are misguided and will harm, rather than protect, the American people."

"The administration has implemented or threatened global tariffs on approximately $500 billion of goods," Hatch said.

Hatch argued that the tit-for-tat tariffs against U.S. allies and partners in Europe, Canada, Mexico, and "around the world are already harming American farmers and manufacturers, and raising costs for the nation’s families."

"If this continues, our economy will suffer," he said. 

Hatch said that the tariffs threaten to undermine the success of tax reform, a Republican legislative achievement for the majority in Congress and Trump. 

Trump has levied tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from key trading partners such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

The administration also has hit China with tariffs on $50 billion —$34 billion now and $16 billion later — of Chinese goods and has threatened another 10 percent tariff on $200 billion more on a wide range of products.

Hatch said he has recommended to the president that it is time to negotiate with China "using a targeted strategy to address their unfair trade practices."

"While those efforts are underway, the administration should not impose further tariffs on our allies and partners, particularly on autos and auto parts," Hatch said.

The Utah Republican, who is finishing up his final term in Congress, also expressed concern about a possible Trump move to increase tariffs on auto and auto parts imports.

If the Trump administration decides to go ahead with the auto tariffs proposal it "would lead to a net job loss and lower capital investment in the U.S. auto sector by increasing costs and reducing choice," Hatch said.  

"The result will be lower demand for cars in the United States and lower auto sales and production."