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senate Bill S. 2413

Should Congress Limit the President’s Power to Impose Tariffs Using Economic Emergency Powers?

Argument in favor

The president’s tariff authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) is overly broad and needs to be limited. While presidents historically haven’t used the IEEPA to impose tariffs, President Trump tried to impose tariffs against Mexico in May 2019. Removing that authority would keep all presidents, regardless of political party, from hurting American businesses & consumers based on political whims.

jimK's Opinion
···
11/30/2019
The president has assumed authority to engage in trade wars based on highly questionable claims of national security risks not even bothering to reference economic security risks. The president is only authorized to react to tariffs imposed by trading partners that unfairly damage US interests. The president never had authority to engage in these trade-wars or mess with tariffs that were not in retaliation to a trading partners’ unfairly revising tariffs nor posing an immediate threat national security. trump just presumed the authority to change trading partner terms because the definition of what exactly constitutes a national security risk in this context is not clearly defined. Congress collectively choose to not challenge trump’s presumed authority to do this with only his pronouncing that such risks existed with Canada, Mexico, China and other’s- leading to his trademark sledgehammer diplomacy to win a deal instead of winning solid equitable long-term trade relations. Congress’ inability or unwillingness to hold trump to account for assuming Congressional authority over trade and other issues is at the heart of the issue, having ceded their authority time and time again and with trump viewing any further legal restrictions as simply slight distractions. If the only way to stop these excesses and abuses by the executive branch is further legislation, so be it. There will be a lot of these bills coming in the future.
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Hillary's Opinion
···
11/29/2019
Congress should limit the presidents power period. Spell out carefully in words of one syllable that the presidency is a co-equal branch of government. Presidents are not kings, not dictators with unlimited luxury to use the power and treasury of the people for ones own profit.
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Dicr's Opinion
···
11/29/2019
Another law to keep Trump in check. The trade gap with China is getting bigger. If we cripple their economy do we really think they’ll buy more from us? He forgot all about protecting our intellectual properties, but Ivanka got what she wanted.
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Argument opposed

Presidents have historically had broad bilateral authority to set and pursue trade policies that benefit the U.S. and their administrations’ priorities. Taking this authority away from presidents will hamstring future administrations’ ability to set and pursue trade policies that benefit American businesses and workers.

JTJ's Opinion
···
11/30/2019
How about congress get on board and pass the USMCA. If you don’t like the job the president is doing then vote for someone else next year.
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operaman's Opinion
···
11/30/2019
I’m beginning to think the Democrats dislikes our President. Dozens of liberal attorneys turning over every rock or snooping in garbage cans in an attempt to find the next controversy. And certainly buying a few witnesses. I mean, its the Democrat way.
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ManfromNebraska's Opinion
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11/30/2019
This is just another attempt to slow President Trump from all the winning he is doing for us. Support the President and his policies!
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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
    IntroducedAugust 1st, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 2413?

This bill — the Trade Certainty Act of 2019 — would limit the president’s authority to use emergency economic powers to impose duties or tariffs on imports to the U.S. Specifically, it would remove the president’s authority to impose duties or tariffs under the authority of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). 

Impact

Trade; tariffs; DOD; Congress; the president; the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA); and the president’s authority to impose tariffs under under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA).

Cost of Senate Bill S. 2413

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSponsoring Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) introduced this bill to ensure that presidents — regardless of the party holding the White House — can’t use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) to unilaterally impose tariffs

“The threat of tariffs alone has the ability to do a great deal of harm to our economy by causing immense disruption and uncertainty for American businesses and workers. Tariffs should only be imposed as a part of sound and strategic trade policy, not levied on a whim because they do not require congressional approval. I’m proud to author this common sense bill with Senator Toomey that makes small, incremental changes to ensure the rules of the road are clear going forward when it comes to applying tariffs. This isn’t a partisan issue. Tariffs impact every corner of our country, red states and blue states alike. We need to put American consumers and our economy ahead of politics and make sure we protect the people we all represent – no matter who sits in the White House.”

When he met with representatives from four small and mid-sized manufacturing businesses to discuss the impacts of the Trump administration’s trade policy decisions and tariffs on October 21, 2019, Sen. Carper discussed the need for this bill and another piece of legislation he is sponsoring in the current Congressional session, the Kaine-Carper Reclaiming Congressional Authority Act (S.899), to protect businesses against needless, politically motivated tariffs

“It has been 19 months since the White House and China first began trading tariff threats, and businesses across the U.S. – including right here at home in Delaware – are feeling the effects. Tariffs should only be imposed as a part of sound and strategic trade policy, not levied on a whim. This isn’t a partisan issue. Tariffs impact every corner of our country, red states and blue states alike. That is why I have introduced two bills this year that will help us put American consumers and our economy ahead of politics – no matter who is in the White House. It’s so important, as we continue pushing for bipartisan solutions in Washington, that the voices of business owners are heard because they are the ones on the front lines. We cannot allow those who drive our economy to be collateral damage in the ongoing trade wars.”

Original cosponsor Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) adds

“The Constitution assigns responsibility on trade to Congress and that’s where it should remain. IEEPA gave the president authority to apply financial sanctions in response to an unusual or extraordinary threat to our national security. IEEPA was never intended to delegate to the president unilateral tariff-making power. Our bipartisan legislation ensures the executive branch cannot use IEEPA as a justification for taxing Americans who buy foreign goods.”

This legislation passed the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAV) by voice vote as part of an amendment to the ARTICLE ONE Act (S.764 / H.R.1775) sponsored by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). It has eight bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including six Democrats and two Republicans. Its House companion, sponsored by Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), has two Democratic House cosponsors.

Lawfare writers Scott R. Anderson, a David M. Rubenstein fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, and Kathleen Claussen, an Associate Professor at the University of Miami School of Law and former Associate General Counsel at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, note that “Trump is likely to veto any effort to rescind his national emergency or narrow the IEEPA, unless Congress can somehow incorporate it into broader legislation that would be difficult for the president to oppose.” They express doubt about legislation narrowing the IEEPA’s ability to gain the two-thirds support necessary in both chambers of Congress to override Trump’s veto.


Of NoteThe International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) gives the president broad authority to regulate a range of economic transactions after a national emergency declaration. It, like the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) that it branched from, is central to the modern U.S. sanctions regime. 

Over the years, IEEPA has become an important means of imposing economic-based sanctions. Presidents have frequently used IEEPA to restrict a variety of international transactions; and the subjects of restrictions, frequency of use, and duration of emergencies have all expanded over time. At first, presidents targeted foreign states or their governments — over time, they’ve increasingly used IEEPA to target individuals, groups, and non-state actors (such as terrorists) involved in malicious cyber-enabled activities.

As of March 1, 2019, presidents had declared 59 national emergencies involving IEEPA, of which 29 were still ongoing. Typically, national emergencies invoking IEEPA last nearly a decade (some have lasted significantly longer, though: the first state of emergency declared under the NEA and IEEPA, which was declared in response to the taking of U.S. embassy staff as hostages in Iran in 1979, is still ongoing). 

Until the Trump administration, no president had used IEEPA to impose tariffs on products imported from a specific country, or on products imported to the U.S. in general. However, IEEPA’s similarly to TWEA and its relatively frequent use to ban imports and exports suggests that this could happen.

In May 2019, President Trump cited the IEEPA when he announced plans to place tariffs on all imports from Mexico (America’s third-largest trading partner) for issues unrelated to trade. Elizabeth Goitein, an expert on presidential power at the Brennan Center for Justice and co-director of its Liberty and National Security Program, called this use of the IEEPA “unprecedented.” In a May 31, 2019 NPR interview, she explained: 

“IEEPA has not been used by any previous president to impose tariffs on goods from another country. So it's really a first. Now, there was a law before IEEPA, the Trading with the Enemy Act, which in many ways was the precursor to IEEPA. And that act was used to impose tariffs. So I'm certain that the administration is going to say that IEEPA can be and should be used in the same way. Then ultimately, I think this will be challenged in court, and it will come down to a court's reading of what Congress's intent was in passing this law.”

Earlier in the same NPR interview, Goitein also observed that presently, “The International Emergency Economic Powers Act…  is an incredibly powerful authority that allows the president to declare a national emergency with respect to any unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security foreign policy or economy of the United States that has its source, in substantial part, from overseas. So as long as the president declares that there is such a threat and identifies that threat, he can then invoke IEEPA and can take, really, a staggering range of economic actions and impose severe economic penalties on people or entities or countries that are designated as being associated in some way with that threat.”

Ultimately, the tariffs that Trump threatened in May weren’t put into place.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / alexsl)

AKA

Trade Certainty Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to exclude the imposition of duties and import quotas from the authorities provided to the President under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

    The president has assumed authority to engage in trade wars based on highly questionable claims of national security risks not even bothering to reference economic security risks. The president is only authorized to react to tariffs imposed by trading partners that unfairly damage US interests. The president never had authority to engage in these trade-wars or mess with tariffs that were not in retaliation to a trading partners’ unfairly revising tariffs nor posing an immediate threat national security. trump just presumed the authority to change trading partner terms because the definition of what exactly constitutes a national security risk in this context is not clearly defined. Congress collectively choose to not challenge trump’s presumed authority to do this with only his pronouncing that such risks existed with Canada, Mexico, China and other’s- leading to his trademark sledgehammer diplomacy to win a deal instead of winning solid equitable long-term trade relations. Congress’ inability or unwillingness to hold trump to account for assuming Congressional authority over trade and other issues is at the heart of the issue, having ceded their authority time and time again and with trump viewing any further legal restrictions as simply slight distractions. If the only way to stop these excesses and abuses by the executive branch is further legislation, so be it. There will be a lot of these bills coming in the future.
    Like (110)
    Follow
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    How about congress get on board and pass the USMCA. If you don’t like the job the president is doing then vote for someone else next year.
    Like (38)
    Follow
    Share
    Congress should limit the presidents power period. Spell out carefully in words of one syllable that the presidency is a co-equal branch of government. Presidents are not kings, not dictators with unlimited luxury to use the power and treasury of the people for ones own profit.
    Like (59)
    Follow
    Share
    Another law to keep Trump in check. The trade gap with China is getting bigger. If we cripple their economy do we really think they’ll buy more from us? He forgot all about protecting our intellectual properties, but Ivanka got what she wanted.
    Like (50)
    Follow
    Share
    Time for checks and balances!
    Like (38)
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    The president is not a king.
    Like (35)
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    More than one person needs to be involved in determining tariffs & taxes!
    Like (30)
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    All our laws pertaining to presidential powers need to be tightened to be sure the three branches of government provide proper oversight of each other.
    Like (26)
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    Congress is Either a Co-Equal Branch of Government or Not??
    Like (25)
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    These tariffs have been abysmal. I am paying more at the gas pump, in the grocery store, and the goods and services I use on a daily basis. The economy has not benefited my immediate circle. In addition, my increase in tax dollars are paying to subsidize corporate farmers, not family run farms. Manufacturing costs have sky rocketed. So tariffs are bad! We need three co-equal branches of government. The country needs to wake up from the stupor. Stop listening to the bombastic rhetoric and LOOK AT THE FACTS.
    Like (24)
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    We’ve seen what damage tariffs do in the wrong hands. We need more oversight.
    Like (21)
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    Executive branch needs to be checked
    Like (19)
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    This issue is the tip of an iceberg that has plagued the world since the dollar became the default currency of the world! With international overreaching power there must be rules of the road that prevent abuse and blackmail as a means to crush undeclared adversaries and friends when our president is unable to get his way! Trade and monetary policy must become part of a deliberative process that responds to needs of the American People and an equitable balance that adheres to principles of wisdom, world harmony and compassion! For too long we have allowed our representatives to bind themselves to the ignorance. hatred and greed of billionaires and their schemes to thrive at the expense of good governance for our benefit as the sovereigns of this nation! Billionaires have coined the raping of our nation “trickle down economics” as the best way to have economic prosperity. They have been correct because billionaires do not consider the wellbeing of all Americans. Their concerns are centered strictly on their own wealth and prosperity and of course the president and Congress that depends on them for a prosperous career! This scenario looks bad. But it gets worse when we consider that this heinous policy is used by our government to facilitate the stealing of natural resources from other nations through war and sanctions for the benefit of the robber barons of the 21st century!! We have our sons and daughters die for the benefit of billionaires! How sick is that!! What makes it worse is that these billionaires do not pay taxes!! We pay for the wars that the billionaires benefit from!! Let’s unite as a people for an America for all Americans!! We are the people!! We have the power if we unite to use it!!
    Like (17)
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    Congress should have that authority, not the president.
    Like (16)
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    Given the dramatic effect tariffs can have on the US economy, I believe that congress should have limits on the president’s power in this domain.
    Like (16)
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    I’m beginning to think the Democrats dislikes our President. Dozens of liberal attorneys turning over every rock or snooping in garbage cans in an attempt to find the next controversy. And certainly buying a few witnesses. I mean, its the Democrat way.
    Like (15)
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    Yes, it is quite clear, after reading A Warning, that the President is using tariffs to generate income for his pet projects. This has got to stop. Republicans shouldn’t be waiting for the voters to clean up their damn mess. Conservatives should get off their damn ass and start cleaning up their enormous “steady state” screw up themselves.
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    The president holds entirely too much power. He has run amuck with the senate backing him every underhand dirty rotten step of the way! We need a check on the presidential office. We used to have that until this disgusting man baby trump came along!
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    This is just another attempt to slow President Trump from all the winning he is doing for us. Support the President and his policies!
    Like (14)
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    He’s an idiot and a corrupt soul full of greed!! Just like the entire GOP = Group of Putin
    Like (13)
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