Free Trade

Congress' Pathetic Effort at Revoking Trump's Trade War Powers Has Failed

Sen. Chuck Grassley says it's dead because lawmakers feared upsetting the president.

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A bipartisan effort to limit the president's authority to impose tariffs unilaterally appears to have been scrubbed before it ever reached the launch pad.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa) told Inside Tradean industry publication, that legislation curtailing President Donald Trump's unprecedented and aggressive use of tariffs under the guise of "national security" has stalled in the Senate Finance Committee, which Grassley chairs. Grassley said lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement to pass a bill, in part, because Republican members of the committee were unwilling to stand up to the president.

The U.S. Constitution gives Congress final authority over trade, but the legislature has delegated much of that authority to the executive branch since the end of World War II. Under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, for example, Congress gave the White House the ability to impose tariffs unilaterally in order to protect domestic industries deemed essential for national security. It's a provision that was supposed to ensure America had adequate supplies of weaponry in the event of a war, but the Trump administration has stretched the "national security" claim to an absurd degree—going as far as suggesting that imported cars might somehow threaten America's ability to defend itself.

After Trump used Section 232 to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in March 2018, some members of Congress suggested that the law should be rewritten to prevent such abuse.

One proposal, sponsored by Sens. Pat Toomey (R–Penn.) and Mark Warner (D–Va.), would require congressional assent before tariffs could be imposed under Section 232.  Another bill, sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman (R–Ohio) and Doug Jones (D–Ala.), would transfer the Section 232 process from the Commerce Department to the Pentagon, and it would add a mechanism to allow Congress to block presidential tariff declarations—but would not require affirmative consent by lawmakers.

For months, both ideas have been batted around within the Senate Finance Committee. Grassley has repeatedly said he wanted to pass something curtailing presidential tariff powers—and Republicans have quietly worried that Trump's aggressive use of Section 232 could allow a future Democratic administration to declare, for example, global warming a national security risk and use Section 232 to slap tariffs on carbon-emitting goods and industries.

That would be no more ridiculous than how Trump has used the law. Republicans' failure to stand up to Trump's hamfisted attempts to redirect global trade may only pave the way for future abuses—and it demonstrates the extent to which Congress has abdicated its role as a co-equal branch of government.

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  1. What a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing with us. Also you can download AP Voter list here.

    1. Adam Smith stated in “The Wealth of Nations” that free and unrestricted trade is beneficial to both parties. China can use American intellectual property, massive cheap labor pools, and non-existent environmental regulations to produce endless products for very little cost. Americans benefit because we no longer need dangerous factory jobs but can instead work in Amazon Fulfillment centers or other service based jobs, such as McDonalds or Chaturbate. Why do people oppose progress?

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      3. Why would anyone want to do any to benefit China? That just makes our enemy stronger.

  2. Sen. Chuck Grassley needs to name names for those who turn their backs towards our glorious revolution against the tyranny of the British crown (No taxation without Representation) and violate their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution.

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  3. If you’re not willing to risk taking an L on the issue, then the issue wasn’t all that important to you to begin with, and you’re just full of hot air.

  4. //Sen. Chuck Grassley (R–Iowa) told Inside Trade, an industry publication, that legislation curtailing President Donald Trump’s unprecedented and aggressive use of tariffs under the guise of “national security” has stalled in the Senate Finance Committee, which Grassley chairs. Grassley said lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement to pass a bill, in part, because Republican members of the committee were unwilling to stand up to the president.//

    Except … that isn’t what Grassley said at all.

    From the article:

    “Grassley has been working on a compromise bill addressing Section 232 reform for more than a year, repeatedly pushing back a timeline for its introduction.

    “Two things I’ve found out in the year that I’ve been trying to do something on this. Number one, it’s difficult to get bipartisan agreement on what to do and, secondly, there’s some Republicans who don’t want to advance [the bill] because they might be seen as doing it in an anti-Trump fashion,” he told reporters on a conference call.

    It goes on to write:

    Asked if the U.S.-China deal would be a casualty of increasing tension between the two countries, Grassley said he spoke with the president last week to emphasize the importance of the deal for agriculture in particular. He noted that the president was facing pressure from many to take action against Beijing.

    According to Grassley, he told Trump “how important trade is with China and even though we have trouble with China now between the World Health Organization and their lack of transparency on how they handled the virus, that that shouldn’t interfere with trade.”

    While he wouldn’t divulge many details about the conversation, Grassley said he was “satisfied” that the president continued to support the agreement.

    “I don’t want to say what the president said to me in a private conversation, but I was very satisfied with his answer and you know I wouldn’t be satisfied with an answer if I didn’t feel like the president was going to maintain that trade agreement with China,” he told reporters.

    So, why the bullshit??

    1. “ERIC BOEHM’

      1. This entire article by Boehm is just a pathetic editorialization of a real article, written by a real publication, to make Trump look like some kind of maniacal dictator while Republicans cower in the corner, terrified to speak ill of the President.

        The article was literally a story about Sen. Grassley working with Trump in managing trade relations with China. Yet, despite this reality, Boehm blows it up into something completely ridiculous and, technically, false.

        1. Grassley imploding!

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    2. Eric Boehm’s pathetic attempt at writing a decent article has failed

      Of course, thats par for the course
      Dude just doesn’t have any ability

      1. It is like it never even occurred to him that anyone would bother looking at the original article to which he is citing, or notice that he intentionally misquoted Sen. Grassley.

        1. Hes taking tips from DoL?

      2. Boehm is a pathetic joke.

  5. Grassley said lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement to pass a bill, in part, because Republican members of the committee were unwilling to stand up to the president.

    Which is exactly why you got Trump in the first place. Because you’re spineless, gutless, unprincipled shitweasels who’ll roll over on your backs the minute anybody scowls in your direction. Isn’t that right, Senator Ethanol Mandate? Tell us again how honorable and principled you are about doing whatever it takes to bribe enough pork barrel welfare queens to ensure your re-election.

    1. Grassley has to protect the Children of the Corn. Our greatest Harvest is to come!

  6. >>because Republican members of the committee were unwilling to

    get torched on Twitter by T

  7. The headline implies the trade actions trump has taken were just fine prior to trump.

    Still waiting for the Boehm article admitting that China does not participate in free trade.

  8. So good then Trump wins again.

  9. “Grassley said lawmakers were unable to reach an agreement to pass a bill, in part, because Republican members of the committee were unwilling to stand up to the president.”

    The Republican members of the committee need to grow spines and read a little Burke.

    “There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men.” ~ Edmund Burke

  10. Can’t wait for all the Republican to be tripping over themselves to distance themselves from Trump after he loses in November. I predict they will turn into free trader and into deficit hawks in record time.

    1. He’s not going to lose in November, but they’re idiots if they think he’s going to wield much influence over 2022 or 2024 elections.

  11. Say you do incur Trump’s wrath by voting to un-delegate some or all of the authority presidents have been granted to modify these legislated trade arrangements. What do you lose?

    What bills do you want to write that he won’t sign out of spite? I bet they aren’t good for human liberty.

    Who do you think he’s going to support for election in your district in November? A Democrat? Like they’re going to be better for him?!

    You think he’s going to get an alternate Republican elected? In many states the primaries are already over. Do you seriously think he can find a challenger who’s to his liking?

    Or is it about 2022? You think it’s like Trump to go back 2 years to decide something like this? A lame duck president is going to wield such influence over a midterm Congressional election?

    Trump has no leverage over you, morons!

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