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senate Bill S. 1284

Should Unilateral Trade Actions by the Executive Branch Require Congressional Approval?

Argument in favor

Congress needs to reassert its constitutional authority over U.S. trade and tariff policies and expand its oversight of the executive branch, particularly as it relates to tariffs imposed by President Trump which are threatening to cause a global economic meltdown.

Mike's Opinion
···
09/01/2019
Trump is destroying our economy and world standing by using obscure loopholes in laws passed 40+ years ago that were to be used in an emergency! Congress must act to reign in these abuses so no future president can do the damage that trump has done.
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larubia's Opinion
···
09/01/2019
Now more than ever, we need Congress’ approval before an executive trade agreement is made! Agreements and sanctions in response to trade, made in haste will hurt Americans, as we’re witnessing today.
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Keith's Opinion
···
09/01/2019
Sadly, I believe if Obama were still in office, this Bill would have been passed by the GOP using telekinesis. But when their own are in power, they don’t seem to care about accountability.
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Argument opposed

The president has the power to impose tariffs, and there’s no need for Congress to interfere in how the executive branch carries out U.S. trade policy. Giving the president broad latitude on trade matters allows the chief executive to ensure good trade deals for the U.S.

jimK's Opinion
···
09/01/2019
Too little, too late. Presidents currently only have authority to impose tariffs when needed for national security or in retaliation to new tariffs imposed upon us. trump abused that authority by simply proclaiming that Canada, Mexico, China and any other country were threats to our national security. The national security clause implies some new and imminent threat due to something new that a trading partner has recently done which threatens our security. None of the new tariffs imposed as part of trump’s trade-wars met these criteria, None! No one in Congress did their jobs and challenged trump’s re-interpretation of what ‘national security threat’ required initiation of an economically damaging trade war. No-one! Congress, especially the Senate and Moscow Mitch of the Red party, has continued to cede its authority to trump, because he has continued to re-interpret the Constitution and existing laws to Congressional benefactor’s advantage, There are Congressional Constitutional remedies for a president abusing the powers implicit to hIs office- but hyper-partisan divides, political maneuvering, and plain old greed have stalled these processes. The proposed legislation is a band-aid to cover up the wounds caused by Congress’s inability to do it’s job. The only thing I would endorse, would be to clearly define what constitutes a ‘national security threat’ in context of trade management and hold the executive branch to show that new/revised tariffs are justified by that definition. Of course, if we had better selection criteria to keep demonstrably dishonorable, dishonest, unethical candidates from ever getting into our National Offices, none of this crap would be needed at all.
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burrkitty's Opinion
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09/01/2019
Republicans whingeing about losing money due to their own monster’s collateral damage. Suck it up, pancakes. You own this. It’s all yours. Maybe if it hurts you will learn the consequences to choosing power and party over the American People and the good of the nation.
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I.Got.an.Idea...'s Opinion
···
09/01/2019
Although I agree that Congress needs to be involved in all decisions affecting the United States, and believe that the President should be a mere figurehead and spokesperson for the Country, there is no bi-partisan support, signifying that there may also be some more corruption at play here, with this legislation. Republicans have given the Congressional power away to the Executive Branch and now it is backfiring when their own trade policies and actions are harming the Country. This legislation may actually just be a ploy to make it appear to their uneducated constituents, That Republicans actually care that they fucked up this Country and actually want to help the Citizens.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Finance
    IntroducedMay 2nd, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 1284?

This bill — the Global Trade Accountability Act of 2019 — would require congressional approval of unilateral trade actions. The president would remain allowed to take trade actions for 90-day periods if they: 1) determine that it is necessary because of a national emergency, because of an imminent threat to health or safety, for the enforcement of criminal laws, or for national security; and 2) submit written notice of the determination to Congress.

Impact

Trade; tariffs; DOD; Congress; Congressional approval of unilateral trade actions; and the president.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 1284

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Mike Lee (R-UT) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to subject unilateral actions by the president to increase trade barriers to congressional approval

“Congress has ceded far too much law making power to the Executive branch including the power to unilaterally raise tariffs. Sudden hikes in trade barriers could wreak havoc on many small and midsize manufacturers in my home state of Utah that rely on imports and globally connected supply chains. Congress must be involved in any decision that would increase barriers to trade.”

Its House sponsor Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), adds

“On trade, along with many other issues, Congress needs to work with President Trump to restore power to the American people. Today, I introduced the Global Trade Accountability Act, which seeks to: support the President’s Constitutional authority to negotiate trade deals, and restore Congressional responsibility for reinforcing, improving, and approving trade policy. Thankfully, President Trump has made fixing the broken trade deals a priority. American manufacturing is vital to our economy and security. Owning manufacturing companies, I experienced the harmful effects of bad trade policy firsthand. Congress needs to join the President to collaboratively address the substantial impact of trade policy on job creators, farmers, and consumers in Ohio and across the country.”

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) supports this bill. In a letter to ATR’s members, ATR president Grover Norquist wrote: 

“This legislation would reaffirm Congress’ authority by requiring all tariffs proposed by the Executive Branch to be approved by the legislature. Article II of the Constitution gives the President the power to negotiate international trade agreements, not implement tariffs. Over time, Congress has increasingly allowed the Executive Branch to establish and raise tariffs and restrict imports, under certain conditions. Tariffs are another form of tax on American citizens, and therefore should be voted on by Congress. Domestically, tariffs harm jobs and the economy. The prices of imported goods increase, and the cost falls on consumers. Internationally, a trade war could ensue as other countries retaliate with their own trade barriers. Free trade is critical to the American economy and is essential to guaranteeing a high standard of living for Americans.  International trade directly affects millions of jobs across all 50 states. In 46 of the 50 states, trade-related jobs account for more than one-quarter of all jobs. In total, more than 1 in 5 jobs, or close to 41 million, are reliant on trade… Congress should reassert its authority with all who serve in the Executive Branch, today and in the future. Members of Congress can demonstrate their support for Congressional authority and their opposition to increased tariffs by co-sponsoring the Global Trade Accountability Act.”

Susan Aaronson, senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation, a Canadian think tank, observes that Trump’s tariffs have “led to further disruption in rural areas, higher costs, fewer jobs, more addiction, more hopelessness, and fueling of lies, that the other guy or woman is taking your job.” She adds that Trump uses tariffs indiscriminately and poorly

“Trump has not delivered and does not know how to deliver — no strategy, a real enforceable outcome with China. Tariffs are his magic Swiss army knife that he can use against nations without asking for [C]ongresssional assent.”

Dan DiMicco, former chairman of Nucor (a major U.S. steel company) and a longtime China critic who served as a trade advisor to Trump during the 2016 election, claims that tariffs will have few negative impacts. He argues that the latest round of tariffs against China, announced in August 2019, will have “little or not impact on consumers, just as prior tariffs did not increase inflation.” In fact, DiMicco argued for higher tariffs to punish China for bad acts: 

“The president should go further and increase these additional tariffs from 10% to 25% on these remaining Chinese imports. China has not agreed to stop stealing intellectual property. Instead it is getting more aggressive, likely encouraging North Korea’s missile test, failing to follow through on agricultural purchases, and not making clear commitments to return to where negotiations were in May. Enough is enough! Markets will be fine.”

This legislation has four Republican Senate cosponsors in the 116th Congress. Its House companion, sponsored by Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), has 11 House cosponsors, including 10 Republicans and one Independent. As of August 29, 2019, neither bill had received a committee vote. This legislation has the support of Americans for Tax Reform, Freedom Partners, and FreedomWorks.

Last Congress, this legislation had five Republican Senate cosponsors. Its House version had 23 House cosponsors, including 22 Republicans and one Independent. Neither bill received a committee vote last Congress.


Of NoteThe Trump administration has used tariffs liberally in an attempt to remedy the trade deficit. President Trump’s trade war with China has roiled global markets, and his unilateral declarations — including a tweet ordering U.S. companies to find alternatives to China and start making their products in the U.S. — have caused widespread uncertainty about the global economy.

Due to the president’s behavior, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 600 points after Trump’s tweet ordering American companies to seek alternatives to China. After Trump said that China had called to “get back to the table” on negotiations,” the Dow recovered by almost 300 points on the Monday after the tweet. However, Vox’s Emily Stewart notes, the global implications of the U.S.-China trade war are “weighing on investors.” She writes

“The longer this goes on, with no firm deal in sight, the likelier it becomes to affect business investments and corporate decision-making, or even to tip the US into a recession. There’s also not a lot going on elsewhere for traders to focus on, making market movements more prone to follow day-to-day headlines and therefore more volatile, especially in an environment of tariff-by-tweet.”

Craig Allen, president of the U.S.-China Business Council, expresses similar thoughts: 

“This [trade war] has become a process without a clear objective and without a clear strategy and without a clear endpoint. And it's being played out in much worsening global economic circumstances. It is more uncertainty heaped upon already existing uncertainty."

In the context of China, the Brookings Institution’s Eswar Prasad points out, “A trade deficit is not necessarily a bad thing because it means that consumers are consuming more and there is more investment happening in the economy.” Moreover, Prasad contends, there are ultimately no winners in trade wars, as they create “concerns for the economy” that reduce consumer and business confidence, leading to decreased consumption and investment in the economy.

China is also not the only target of Trump’s tariff threats. Key U.S. allies and important neighbors have also been threatened with tariffs during negotiations over various issues. During a dispute over border control in May 2019, Trump threatened to impose a 5% tariff on Mexican imports. That kicked off days of fear among businesses and politicians in both countries until Trump said an immigration deal had been reached and scaled back his threats. 

In July 2019, Trump responded to a French plan to tax high-earning tech companies, such as Google and Facebook, that provide digital services within France with a threat to tariff French wines. In a tweet, he wrote: 

“France just put a digital tax on our great American technology companies. If anybody taxes them, it should be their home Country, the USA. We will announce a substantial reciprocal action on [French President Emmanuel] Macron’s foolishness shortly. I’ve always said American wine is better than French wine!”

Before leaving for the G7 meetings, Trump reiterated his tariff threat, tweeting, “Those are great American companies, and frankly I don’t want France going out and taxing our companies. And if they do that ... we’ll be taxing their wine like they’ve never seen before.” 

This prompted the European Council’s president, Donald Tusk, to say that the EU would “respond in kind” to such an action. Tusk said, “I will protect French wine with genuine determination for many reasons. The EU stands by France.”


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / jimfeng)

AKA

Global Trade Accountability Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to provide for congressional review of the imposition of duties and other trade measures by the executive branch, and for other purposes.

    Trump is destroying our economy and world standing by using obscure loopholes in laws passed 40+ years ago that were to be used in an emergency! Congress must act to reign in these abuses so no future president can do the damage that trump has done.
    Like (67)
    Follow
    Share
    Too little, too late. Presidents currently only have authority to impose tariffs when needed for national security or in retaliation to new tariffs imposed upon us. trump abused that authority by simply proclaiming that Canada, Mexico, China and any other country were threats to our national security. The national security clause implies some new and imminent threat due to something new that a trading partner has recently done which threatens our security. None of the new tariffs imposed as part of trump’s trade-wars met these criteria, None! No one in Congress did their jobs and challenged trump’s re-interpretation of what ‘national security threat’ required initiation of an economically damaging trade war. No-one! Congress, especially the Senate and Moscow Mitch of the Red party, has continued to cede its authority to trump, because he has continued to re-interpret the Constitution and existing laws to Congressional benefactor’s advantage, There are Congressional Constitutional remedies for a president abusing the powers implicit to hIs office- but hyper-partisan divides, political maneuvering, and plain old greed have stalled these processes. The proposed legislation is a band-aid to cover up the wounds caused by Congress’s inability to do it’s job. The only thing I would endorse, would be to clearly define what constitutes a ‘national security threat’ in context of trade management and hold the executive branch to show that new/revised tariffs are justified by that definition. Of course, if we had better selection criteria to keep demonstrably dishonorable, dishonest, unethical candidates from ever getting into our National Offices, none of this crap would be needed at all.
    Like (74)
    Follow
    Share
    Republicans whingeing about losing money due to their own monster’s collateral damage. Suck it up, pancakes. You own this. It’s all yours. Maybe if it hurts you will learn the consequences to choosing power and party over the American People and the good of the nation.
    Like (43)
    Follow
    Share
    Now more than ever, we need Congress’ approval before an executive trade agreement is made! Agreements and sanctions in response to trade, made in haste will hurt Americans, as we’re witnessing today.
    Like (27)
    Follow
    Share
    Although I agree that Congress needs to be involved in all decisions affecting the United States, and believe that the President should be a mere figurehead and spokesperson for the Country, there is no bi-partisan support, signifying that there may also be some more corruption at play here, with this legislation. Republicans have given the Congressional power away to the Executive Branch and now it is backfiring when their own trade policies and actions are harming the Country. This legislation may actually just be a ploy to make it appear to their uneducated constituents, That Republicans actually care that they fucked up this Country and actually want to help the Citizens.
    Like (24)
    Follow
    Share
    NO WAY USERP THE PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY..... The president has the power to impose tariffs, and there’s no need for Congress to interfere in how the executive branch carries out U.S. trade policy. Giving the president broad latitude on trade matters allows the chief executive to ensure good trade deals for the U.S. SneakyPete.......... 👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻. 9.1.19..........
    Like (15)
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    Sadly, I believe if Obama were still in office, this Bill would have been passed by the GOP using telekinesis. But when their own are in power, they don’t seem to care about accountability.
    Like (15)
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    It’s obvious crazy is here and you never know where it’s going to strike. We need as much transparency and oversight as possible. Checks and balances need reinforced.
    Like (12)
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    Given how Trump is screwing up trade negotiations or lack thereof, it would be a good idea to get Congressional approval.
    Like (11)
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    No where in the Constitution is the President granted the power to levy tariffs. Congress holds this power. The spineless whomps in the Senate like Senator Rubio & Scott remind me of Gumby. They just follow the President into disaster as he lines his pockets and those of the rich. They violate their oath.
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    Representatives of Indiana Can you please explain WHY you deferred your constitutional duties. Article 1 section 8 the United States Constitution specifically states. To collect taxes and duties on imports. Why is the executive branch aloud to without congressional approval. Indiana is primarily an agricultural state. Your culpable in the suffering of in Indiana agricultural. You talk for hours and hours and do nothing. We support Indiana farmers really your inaction speaks volumes of how you really care. Your complicit. The party of Abraham Lincoln sure has went to hell. Need proof observe the damage you’re doing to your family farms in this state. You can’t deny the facts. They will look back in history and see our l legislative branch done nothing but talk. At sixty two years old I never would have thought this was possible. As my grandpa said Rick never underestimate stupid and the representatives of Indiana you have proved this to be true. Sincerely Rick Keeley Muncie Indiana
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    Mr.Trump has proved unqualified to make these actions in the best position for the country. He is looking out for himself and his new allies; like Russia and N.Korea. Congress must act.
    Like (9)
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    The President is not the representative of the people. Congress should be involved in big trade decisions because you represent us as lawmakers. The President should enforce the laws Congress passes.
    Like (8)
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    Both sides have contributed to this problem. The Republicans complained bitterly about Obama’s “imperial presidency,” but are silent about Trump’s. It time to rein in this overreach and return to our Constitutional standard.
    Like (8)
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    This is an attempt by RINO’s in league with Democrats to hamstring President Trump. He must be unencumbered to make the best trade deals for our nation, Congresses only function is to vote on them once completed. We know that Democrats don’t want to give him a victory period. #AmericaFirst #MAGA
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    Clearly our Constitution gives the executive office too much unilateral power when it comes to foreign policy. This lack or checks and balances is allowing a Russian asset to decimate our foreign policy I am quite sure this was not the intent of our founding fathers. Obviously, they would have thought, treason by way corrupting our Constitution would be subject to impeachment. However, since that is not the case, we require some way to offer reassurance to long-standing allies that our word as a country will not shift with the tides.
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    Without a doubt this should happen as we have a complete moron in the White House who is totally wrecking the economy because of his ineptness in dealing with economic affairs. Trump is a complete idiot.
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    This is a bill designed to make it seem like republicans are doing something without them doing anything. How about you republican senators -especially Moscow Mitch - enforce sanctions on Russia? How about you republican senators notice that the president has lost hold on reality and do something about that? This bill is a waste of oxygen.
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    There needs to be checks and balances between the executive branch and the legislative branches of government short of impeachment. Farmers are being hurt. Banks are not waiting to foreclose on small farmers who are unable to pay their loans. They are losing their farm because the government has failed to come up with alternative markets for the farms crops. Shame!
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    This is an example of Republicans trying to lock out the opposition just in case they lose the presidential race.... they lock up the Senate ....now the house ... HELLO....they already have this in place...talk about a do nothing party!!
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