Senators Introduce Bill to Reform the National Security Tariff Process

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Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Joni Ernst (R-IA), and Doug Jones (D-AL) recently introduced a bill to reform the national security tariff process. This newly introduced bipartisan legislation requires the Department of Defense – rather than Department of Commerce – to investigate and justify whether or not a national security basis exists for new tariffs under Section 232.

Such tariffs are used when there is a threat to national security and allow the president wide latitude to implement them. These are the tariffs that President Trump and the Department of Commerce initiated on steel and aluminum earlier this year.

Members of the RV Industry met with Ernst, co-chair of the Senate RV Caucus, on Advocacy Day, and expressed concern over the 232 steel and aluminum tariffs and their effects on the RV industry.

As introduced, the new legislation will reform Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to better align the statute with its original intent as a powerful trade remedy tool for the president and Congress to respond to genuine threats to national security. This legislation addresses concerns that misuse of Section 232 will harm jobs and the economy and likely result in a loss of this trade remedy tool, either at the hands of a World Trade Organization dispute settlement panel or as the result of other congressional action. The text of the bill is here.

“We must hold countries that violate our trade laws accountable, but we must do so in a way that protects American jobs and strengthens the U.S. economy,” said Portman.

“We cannot resolve perceived trade imbalances by accusing our allies of being a threat to our national security. If a trading partner is suspected of undermining our national security, that claim needs to be thoroughly investigated by those with relevant expertise in the Department of Defense,” said Jones. “Unfortunately, the current process led by the Department of Commerce has been misused to target important job-creating industries in Alabama like auto manufacturing. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Portman that will reform the Section 232 process and help to refocus our efforts on punishing bad actors, rather than hurting American manufacturers, workers, and consumers.”

 Read Senator Portman’s full press release and summary of the bill here.


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