Democrats introduce bill to rein in Trump on tariffs

Senate Democrats are moving to try to rein in President TrumpDonald John TrumpPompeo changes staff for Russia meeting after concerns raised about top negotiator's ties: report House unravels with rise of 'Les Enfants Terrible' Ben Carson: Trump is not a racist and his comments were not racist MORE's tariff authority, marking the latest sign of pushback on Capitol Hill over the administration's trade policies.

Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineTrump's pick to lead Pentagon glides through confirmation hearing Acosta defends Epstein deal, bucking calls for resignation Republican lawmakers on why they haven't read Mueller report: 'Tedious' and 'what's the point?' MORE (D-Va.) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperFighting the opioid epidemic: Congress can't just pass laws, but must also push to enforce them Overnight Energy: Scientists flee USDA as research agencies move to Kansas City area | Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules to put industry reps on boards | New rule to limit ability to appeal pollution permits Watchdog finds EPA skirted rules when appointing industry leaders to science boards MORE (D-Del.) are introducing legislation on Wednesday that would require Congress to vote to approve tariffs implemented for national security reasons.

Under the bill, obtained by The Hill ahead of its release, a president could implement tariffs for national security reasons under section 232 of the trade laws, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Trading with the Enemy Act, but Congress would have to vote within 120 days to continue them or the financial penalties would sunset. A resolution approving the tariffs would need to win over a simple majority of both chambers.


The Democratic senators said the legislation would help rebalance the relationship between Congress and the White House on trade, where lawmakers have ceded some of their authority to the executive branch in recent decades.

"What we’ve seen from the Trump Administration is an abuse of that power. ... This bill will protect the American economy by ensuring Congress reclaims its oversight of trade decisions,” Kaine said in a statement.

Carper added that the legislation was needed after Congress has "slowly but surely ceded" their authority, "allowing presidents to take steps that impact American consumers without consulting Congress."

The president used Section 232 to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, including slapping the financial penalties on key trading allies like the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

The legislation would also bolster congressional oversight of broader tariff and trade policy including a president's section 301 tariff authority, a provision that Trump has used to implement tariffs on some imports from China.

Under the Kaine-Carper bill, Congress could pass a resolution of disapproval within 60 days of an administration moving forward with tariffs using its 301 authority.

Trump's use of tariffs has been a regular point of tension between the White House and lawmakers, including traditional allies in the GOP.

The Senate took a symbolic shot at his use of the financial penalties last year by instructing lawmakers hashing out a deal on a government funding bill to include language “providing a role for Congress” on tariffs implemented for national security reasons.

The language was nonbinding, but more senators supported including the language than the amount needed to override a veto, underscoring the depth of concern on Capitol Hill.

But Republicans have been wary of formally breaking with Trump, with attempts by then-Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (R-Tenn.) to attach legislation requiring congressional approval for tariffs applied for national security reasons to a defense policy bill and the farm bill each blocked.

Trump allies have warned lawmakers against passing legislation, arguing it would undercut the president’s negotiating ability.

But a key GOP senator is expected to soon introduce legislation that would bolster congressional oversight over national security tariffs.

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Advocates frustrated over pace of drug price reform Trump drug pricing setbacks put pressure on Congress MORE (R-Iowa), the chairman of the Finance Committee, said in a statement on Tuesday that he would be introducing legislation that includes requiring Congress to approve Section 232 tariffs after a certain period of time.

“Congress should take back some of this delegation of its Constitutional authority and rebalance trade powers between the two branches in a responsible way that doesn’t impede a president’s ability to protect America’s national security," Grassley said in a statement.

He added that he wanted to work with Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid Top Democrat demands answers on election equipment vulnerabilities Advocates frustrated over pace of drug price reform MORE (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Finance Committee, and other colleagues to "find a path forward that can receive broad, bipartisan support.”

--This report was updated at 12:24 p.m.