Senators seek to limit president’s tariff powers

Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) introduced legislation that would require the president to obtain congressional approval before imposing tariffs in the name of national security. There is significant bi-partisan support for the bill, as well as support from the business and agricultural communities concerned about the recent tariffs and retaliation against U.S. exports. It is not clear if the bill can secure enough votes to achieve a veto-proof majority.

Also, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was called to testify before the Senate Finance Committee evaluating the impact of the steel and aluminum tariffs. At the hearing, senators from both parties were critical of the tariffs and concerned about retaliatory tariffs. Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) questioned Secretary Ross’s justification that the tariffs protect U.S. national security, stating that they fail to address national security interests or counter China’s trade practices. During the hearing, Secretary Ross noted that prices for the metals have increased by more than the amount of the tariffs alone, and announced the Administration is launching an investigation into whether participants in the aluminum and steel industries are profiting from the tariffs by stockpiling their product to raise prices.