US Congress Could Strip President’s Ability to Unilaterally Set Tariffs

Donald Trump, Elections, Foreign Policy, Rundown, Trade, US Politics

Donald Trump’s push for the United States into a trade war with China and some US allies is being done unilaterally despite objections from within his own party and even his own administration. The reason President Trump can do this is because of section 232 of the “Trade Expansion Act” that gives the president of the United States full authority to impose tariffs in the interest of national security.

Donald Trump is using this power citing national security concerns, though no credible security concerns can be cited from Mexican, European, and Canadian steel imports, and since the President can act with full autonomy on this matter, the Congress is powerless to overrule the president’s actions. Powerless, that is, for now, as a bipartisan bill will soon be voted on to strip the president of his current ability to impose tariffs with no congressional oversight.

This bill would amend section 232 of the “trade expansion act” that would require the president to submit proposed tariffs in the interest of national security to Congress for approval. This bill, however, is facing an uphill battle. It would first rely on congressional Republicans to vote in direct opposition to Donald Trump’s legislative interests, not to mention Donald Trump could easily veto the bill.

Donald Trump may not want to veto the bill though. The bill has only recently been announced and it is not yet clear how this would affect the president politically. If he does veto the measure and the trade war goes ahead as planned, Donald Trump could see his electorate severely economically affected as many of the retaliatory tariffs announced by the EU, Mexico, and Canada target states and localities that Trump won in 2016, and this could be used by Democrats as a club beat the President with during the 2020 presidential campaign.

This story is still developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.

Emilio Garcia
Deputy Editor, The Unshackled
Host of the Front and Center Podcast