OPINION U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-Wisconsin-3-La Crosse; U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wisconsin-8-Green Bay; U.S. Rep Darin LaHood, R-Illinois-18-Peoria; and U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-20-California, have introduced the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019. The legislation would require the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. A companion piece of legislation was also introduced in the Senate.
Under the new bill members of Congress have a 60-day period following submission to review the president’s proposal. A joint resolution to approve the proposal would qualify for expedited consideration in both chambers. The requirement would apply to all future Section 232 actions, in addition to those taken within the past four years. The bill would restore the national-security intent behind Section 232 by transferring national-security investigatory authority from the Department of Commerce to the Department of the Defense.
“This administration’s misguided trade policies are threatening American standing abroad and are hurting the success of Wisconsin’s farmers, workers and families,” Kind said. “It is long-past time for Congress to stand up and fight for our rural economies by taking back the trade authorities that clearly belong to the Legislative branch – as explicitly stated in the Constitution. This trade war needs to end, and that will only happen when Congress begins reasserting itself on this critical issue which continues to harm Wisconsinites.”
Gallagher said, “When it comes to trade Congress has consistently surrendered its Constitutional authorities to the executive branch. This bill reverses that trend, allowing for trade interventions when our national security is at stake and giving the Defense Department a greater role in that process. Our bill also safeguards the public from executive overreach and from protectionist policies that hurt Wisconsin families, manufacturers and farmers.”
LaHood said, “Agriculture is the top industry in the state of Illinois and I have seen firsthand the positive effect that free trade has had on our farming communities and agribusiness. Our agricultural producers and manufacturers need markets and customers to remain competitive in the global economy. While I appreciate the administration’s efforts to go after bad trade actors, implementation of Section 232 tariffs has resulted in increased costs for consumers and retaliatory trade actions that have hindered the ability of producers in the Midwest to sell their products and have access to open markets. Trade actions with sweeping repercussions, like the implementation of Section 232 tariffs, should not lie exclusively within the authority of the executive branch. Congress has a constitutional role in this process and that is why I am joining this bipartisan group of lawmakers to introduce the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act. I look forward to working with members on both sides of the aisle to ensure Congress is properly consulted on trade actions of critical importance to our farmers and manufacturers in central and west-central Illinois.”
Panetta said, “Many of our nation’s industries, including the $5 billion agricultural sector on the Central Coast of California, benefit greatly from fair and reliable international markets. Unfortunately those markets and industries are experiencing a great amount of unpredictability and uncertainty due to this administration’s unilateral imposition of tariffs under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act based on alleged threats to our national security. The bipartisan Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act seeks to put guardrails on the administration’s broad authority by requiring it to provide evidence of such national-security threats and subsequent Congressional approval for Section 232 tariffs. As a separate but equal branch of government, it’s the responsibility of Congress to ensure that these tariffs are legitimate and supportive of our nation’s security and economic interests.”
The legislation is endorsed by more than 20 national groups.