With U.S. trade fights increasingly roiling markets, a growing chorus of U.S. industries is backing legislation in Congress that would limit President Donald Trump’s ability to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
Fifty-one trade groups are joining the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and 222 state and local chambers by signing a letter that was sent to U.S. senators Tuesday in support of a bill introduced this month by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. The legislation would require Congress to approve or reject any new tariffs the president imposes based on national security concerns.
Trump had urged Corker to drop the bill but he declined. It’s co-sponsored by seven Republican senators and four Democrats.
“The U.S. business and agriculture communities are deeply concerned that the President’s unrestricted use of section 232 to impose tariffs may not be in the national interest,” the letter states. “It is now also increasingly clear that the way the steel and aluminum tariffs have been used will result in retaliatory tariffs from our largest trading partners and closest allies, and that retaliation will have serious negative economic impacts on the United States.”
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The U.S. chamber this month endorsed the bill, but the group has now rallied the support of the state and local chambers, as well as the industry groups.
The industry letter to the U.S. Senate notes that Congress delegated to the president the authority to invoke tariffs in 1962.
“While the president should still have this type of authority, the current circumstances highlight the need for Congress to ensure that the authority will be used, as intended by the Congress, in the overall national interest.”
Those signing the letter include the National Retail Federation, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the American Apparel & Footwear Association and the Computer and Communications Industry Association. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 328 points Monday amid Trump's fresh trade threats.
Trump this month levied a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum imported from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. The EU, in response, is aiming tariffs at American products such as Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Levi’s jeans and bourbon whiskey. Harley-Davidson said Monday it plans to shift some of its U.S. motorcycle production overseas to avoid the duties. Trump also has threatened tariffs on auto imports, citing national security.