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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      House Committee on Rules
      House Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedSeptember 26th, 2018

What is it?

This bill — the Promoting Responsible and Free Trade Act — would authorize Congress to review and approve or disapprove potential  tariffs before the president imposes them. If approved, the president would still have final sign off; if denied, the president would no longer need to weigh in.

This bill would amend three pieces of existing legislation, each of which give the president unilateral authority to impose tariffs under current law:

  • Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974: the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) would be required to send its report to Congress for a maximum review period of 60 days. Congress would have the power to pass a joint resolution of disapproval within the 60-day window to stop the tariff’s implementation.

  • Section 202 of the Trade Act of 1974: the International Trade Commission (ITC) would be required to send its report to Congress for a maximum review period of 60 days. Congress would have the power to pass a joint resolution of disapproval within the 60-day window to stop the tariff’s implementation.

  • Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962: the Dept. of Defense (DOD) and Commerce Dept. would be required to send a report reviewing any national security implications and tariff recommendations to Congress for approval. DOD would also submit its report on national security implications to the president. If the president determines a tariff is necessary, the Commerce Dept. would be required to send Congress a report on tariff-level recommendations, after which Congress would have up to 60 days to approve the tariff report. If approved, the tariff report would go to the president for final approval and implementation. There’d be a two-year period for existing Section 232 tariffs to be reviewed retroactively.

Impact

Tariffs; DOD; USTR: Trade Act of 1974; Trade Expansion Act of 1962; Congress; and the president

Cost

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) introduced this bill to give Congress a more proactive role in implementing tariffs:

“Although the power to impose tariffs is one our Constitution explicitly grants to Congress, modern history is filled with examples of the executive branch imposing tariffs without Congress’s approval...or even a congressional debate. Our Founding Fathers were deliberate in setting up a system of checks and balances, and regardless of your views on the global trading system, the underlying balance of powers should be respected.  Given recent events, I think Congress needs to reclaim its seat at the table, and this bill is a simple and effective way to give Congress a more proactive role in trade policy.”

Original cosponsor Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) adds:

“Our bipartisan bill gives Congress the authority to weigh in on tariffs before they are implemented. No President should have unlimited powers, especially when those powers are hurting innocent farmers and businesses.”

Adam Wilford, a policy analyst at the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, argues that this legislation is needed to rein in presidential abuses of Section 232:

“Congress should consider whether Section 232 has become too politicized, and revoke these trade powers before more damaging import taxes can be levied…. Section 232 was never intended as a permission slip for presidents to bypass normal procedures for implementing tariffs. It was intended as a means by which presidents could respond quickly to imports which threatened to destabilize the state of our national defenses. If presidents are beginning to use Section 232 more creatively, it is up to Congress to use its legislative and Constitutional power to nip that practice in the bud before it can become more prevalent.”

In March 2018, 107 House Republicans sent a letter to President Trump expressing concern about broad tariffs. They wrote:

“Because tariffs are taxes that make U.S. businesses less competitive and U.S. consumers poorer, any tariffs that are imposed should be designed to address specific distortions caused by unfair trade practices in a targeted way while minimizing negative consequences on American businesses and consumers... We urge you to reconsider the idea of broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to the U.S. economy and its workers.”

In July 2018, the Senate voted 88-11 in favor of a non-binding procedural measure asserting “a role for Congress” when the president imposes tariffs in the name of national security. This provision, though toothless, is a formal congressional rebuke of the president’s current tariff policies. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) called the measure “a rebuke of the president’s abuse of trade authority,” saying he was “so glad that Congress is finally, finally pushing back on [tariffs. We have neglected our constitutional role.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has instructed staff to try to find consensus among Republican members on a legislative response to the president’s power to impose tariffs for national security reasons. However, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) summarized Congressional Republicans’ inability to curb the president’s tariffs in an event at The Economic Club of Washington where he said, “You would have to pass a law to say don’t raise those tariffs and the president would have to sign that law. That’s not going to happen.”

While they haven’t taken a position on this bill, the National Retail Federation and Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association have endorsed a Senate bill, authored by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) that would amend the Trade Expansion Act of 1962’s Section 232 authority (which is one provision of this bill).

Similarly, while the White House hasn’t commented on this bill, it has actively tried to block a vote on the Corker bill, arguing that it’d hurt President Trump’s ability to negotiate trade deals. President Trump argues that “trade wars are good, and easy to win.” Larry Kudlow, director of the White House National Economic Council, defended the president’s tariffs as a necessary tool to force trade reform:

“Don’t blame Trump. Blame the nations that have broken away from those conditions. I think free world trade is a very good thing indeed. But it is broken, and President Trump is trying to fix it. And that’s the key point.”


Of Note: There’s reason to believe a full overhaul of the president’s tariff imposition authority isn’t needed. In the past, Congress has amended the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to give itself the power to immediately nullify Section 232 actions restricting petroleum imports by a simple resolution. By that logic, simply expanding the scope of products subject to Congressional disapproval resolutions would go a long way toward restoring Congressional accountability to Section 232 actions.

Since taking office, President Trump has implemented several rounds of tariffs and promised to implement more.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / gguy44)

AKA

Promoting Responsible and Free Trade Act

Official Title

To require congressional approval of certain trade remedies, and for other purposes.

    Tariffs are like taxes, they should originate in the house then voted on by both houses. Trump has been using an outdated loophole to impose tariffs as a national security issue. What he is doing now, in no way, qualify as a national security issue!
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    This is a clear attempt to pass legislation to tie the hands of President Trump. If Congress did their job, the President wouldn’t have to step in.
    Like (48)
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    Sadly, we need this after a reckless dolt abuses his office.
    Like (69)
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    Tariff’s are terrible economic policy. Giving congress the ability to approve or deny is an excellent idea. Convince those do nothings to approve a stupid policy.
    Like (47)
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    One person SHOULD NOT HAVE THE POWER OF PUTTING TARIFFS ON OTHER COUNTRIES. IT should be a combined effort with Congress & the President agreeing to do it & making declarations to the people why & What Tariffs would be instituted & WHAT COMPANIES OR PEOPLE THEY WILL AFFECT.
    Like (44)
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    Tarrifs affect all of us...no one person should make that decision
    Like (29)
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    It would come in handy when you have a compromised president Who only uses Tariffs as punishment
    Like (18)
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    There is no reason that justifies the President having the sole authority to impose tariffs on exports. This is a representative democracy. Congress needs to be able to approve or disapprove the use of tariffs which are taxes and therefore entirely within Congress’ responsibility.
    Like (17)
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    CONgress is filled with incompetent dopes and liars. They cant do their jobs as it is don’t give them more things to do.
    Like (17)
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    Absolutely not. No meddling in tariffs. Congress cannot handle even the most basic of tasks, such as funding our desperately needed southern border wall. No way in hell should Congress stick their noses into yet another area where they don’t belong.
    Like (15)
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    Congress already holds this power. The current tariffs are being enacted under a Presidential power to do so in emergencies, while at this time there is no emergency, so, as usual, it’s another Trump Head fake. Another law to enact a power that is already in the Constitution is excessive, unless it takes away the power of the President to act in so called emergencies.
    Like (15)
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    Trump needs someone to take his crayons away. MTGA make trump go away.
    Like (14)
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    Our politicians from both houses have gotten us into these huge trade imbalances in the 1st place; why, I ask would we ever give them sway over anything anymore? Lobbyists, special interests, foreign trade influence, all have impacted their decisions for decades. Meanwhile our intellectual properties have been pillaged, our country has had crap products dumped on it, manufacturing declined, and workers have suffered. If they had any balls at all, just once these politicians would stay the course and back Trump’s instincts on the fight he has taken to the Chinese and other countries. If the rest of the world saw that he had an iota of support, they’d all back down and maybe we’d actually have fair trade and no tariffs for anyone. All Trump asks for is reciprocity. Stop tying his hands, and see just how far we’d go!
    Like (11)
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    No, that falls outside their scope. A scope otherwise ignored the last decade. Concentrate on your job!! It’s why the people elected you!!
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    Congress should have this power to prevent a dictator from destroying the economy. THIS President should have to seek Congressional approval to use the bathroom.
    Like (10)
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    Tariffs should only be levied when necessary; Trump doesn't seem to understand that.
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    Absolutely not, this is only gonna be used as another weapon against Trump. #MAGA
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    Congress should have the power to represent the people. If one person is making all decisions based on what he wants, then the people are not represented. This Republican regime is “Taxation without Representation “, exactly what Republicans claim to be against.
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    In my opinion, I don’t think that there are enough checks and balances in the government as is.
    Like (9)
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    H.R. 6923 - the Promoting Responsible & Free Trade Act I’m strongly opposed to the passage of this HOUSE bill H.R. 6923 AKA the Promoting Responsible and Free Trade Act which would authorize Congress to review and approve or disapprove potential  tariffs before the president imposes them. If approved, the president would still have final sign off; if denied, the president would no longer need to weigh in. It’s unnecessary for Congress to review all tariffs, as the president’s authority to establish tariffs to protect U.S. economic interests benefits American companies and workers. Alternatively, Congress is already getting more involved in the imposition of tariffs so this bill isn’t needed. SneakyPete..... 👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻👎🏻. 12*1*18.....
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