Lankford, Toomey Prevent Presidential Abuse of “National Security” Tariffs

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Mark Warner (D-VA) to introduce legislation to prevent presidential abuse of “national security” tariffs by reinstating congressional authority over trade. The Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act would make any presidentially proposed tariffs or quotas applied for national security purposes (via Section 232 authority) subject to review and approval by Congress prior to taking effect.

Joining Lankford, Toomey, and Warner in introducing the legislation are Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Carper (D-DE) Mike Crapo (R-ID), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Angus King (I-ME), Mike Lee (R-UT), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tim Scott (R-SC), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Thom Tillis (R-NC).

“Tariffs lead to higher costs on the goods Oklahomans rely on most if they are not handled correctly,” said Lankford. “Congress needs to take back our authority to ensure no president can implement tariffs that drastically hurt our economy and American businesses’ ability to compete on a level playing field. As Americans continue to face the rising cost of goods, skyrocketing inflation as a result of President Biden’s aggressive spending, tax hike proposals, and new entitlements, we must make sure our government has the checks and balances in place to stop any future overreach.”

“For too long, Congress has allowed presidents to unilaterally impose tariffs by invoking spurious claims of ‘national security’ – regardless of whether or not the import in question poses any genuine threat to national defense. These wrongfully-imposed tariffs have increased costs for American consumers, substantially burdened domestic manufacturers, and have undermined our relationships with our allies. Through the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act, we can restore Congress’ authority by once again requiring tariffs imposed for so-called ‘national security’ purposes to be approved by Congress, including those previously enacted on steel and aluminum in 2018,” said Toomey.

“As our economy continues to recover from the economic crisis, we must ensure that Congress has a say in any future actions that could restrict trade or impose consequential changes,” said Warner. “This legislation, which we introduced under the last administration, will help prevent any future president from abusing national security authorities to impose unilateral tariffs. It will also help guarantee that any efforts to crack down on unfair or illegal trade practices are strategic, and done in concert with our allies.”

Under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, Congress conditionally delegated certain tariff and quota authority to the executive branch in the event an import is a threat to national security.

The Senators’ bill would require Congressional approval in the event the executive branch chooses to adjust import levels. It would also restore the national security intent to the statute, by defining the term “national security” to include articles specifically related to military equipment, energy resources, and critical infrastructure.

Several outside groups have voiced support for the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act, including: National Foreign Trade Council, Tariff Reform Coalition, Business Roundtable, Chamber of Commerce, Retail Industry Leaders Association, National Retail Federation, Autos Drive America, Precision Metalforming Association, Precision Machined Products Association, Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users, Associated Builders and Contractors, Industrial Fasteners Institute, Hands-On Science Partnership, National Tooling & Machining Association, North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers, and American Apparel & Footwear Association.