Democrats introduce bill to rein in Trump on tariffs

Senate Democrats are moving to try to rein in President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhat the Mueller report tells us about Putin, Russia and Trump's election Fox's Brit Hume fires back at Trump's criticism of the channel Anti-US trade war song going viral in China MORE's tariff authority, marking the latest sign of pushback on Capitol Hill over the administration's trade policies.

Sens. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — McConnell, Kaine offer bill to raise tobacco buying age to 21 | Measles outbreak spreads to 24 states | Pro-ObamaCare group launches ad blitz to protect Dems McConnell, Kaine introduce bill to raise tobacco purchasing age from 18 to 21 Montana Gov. Bullock enters presidential race MORE (D-Va.) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOvernight Energy: EPA watchdog finds Pruitt spent 4K on 'excessive' travel | Agency defends Pruitt expenses | Lawmakers push EPA to recover money | Inslee proposes spending T for green jobs Lawmakers take EPA head to task for refusing to demand Pruitt repay travel expenses Dems request investigation of lobbyist-turned-EPA employee who met with former boss 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 CorkerJeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump Corker: 'I just don't' see path to challenge Trump in 2020 Ex-GOP Sen. Corker: Trump primary would be 'good thing for our country' 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 GrassleyOn The Money: Judge upholds House subpoena for Trump financial records | Trump vows to appeal ruling by 'Obama-appointed judge' | Canada, Mexico lift retaliatory tariffs on US | IRS audit rate falls Canada, Mexico lift tariffs on US goods after Trump scraps steel, aluminum levies Overnight Defense: Trump rails against media coverage | Calls reporting on Iran tensions 'highly inaccurate' | GOP senator blocking Trump pick for Turkey ambassador | Defense bill markup next week 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 WydenIRS audit rate down in fiscal 2018 Oregon man sentenced after threatening to chop off Dem senator's tongue House to vote on retirement bill next week 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.