U.S. Chamber of Commerce Letter: Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act

Thursday, January 31, 2019 - 1:00pm

January 30, 2019

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce strongly supports, and urges you to cosponsor, the “Bicameral
Congressional Trade Authority Act,” and opposes, and urges you to reject calls to cosponsor, the
“Reciprocal Trade Act.”

The bipartisan “Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act,” introduced by Senators Pat
Toomey and Mark Warner and Representatives Ron Kind and Mike Gallagher would restore the proper
constitutional role of Congress in tariff policy by requiring Congressional approval of tariffs designated
under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

The Chamber is deeply concerned by the unrestricted use of Section 232 to impose new tariffs.
Tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum imports have harmed U.S. industry and elicited retaliatory tariffs
from our closest allies, inflicting serious harm on U.S. workers, farmers, and small businesses, and
undermine U.S. efforts to build an international coalition of like-minded countries to combat the use of
unfair trade practices. Economic harm is described in detail at TheWrongApproach.com.

A new threat to levy a 25% tariff on all imported automobiles and auto parts would inflict
enormous harm on the U.S. economy. Approximately $350 billion of imports could be affected. The
U.S. auto industry — the nation’s largest manufacturing sector — and many downstream industries would
be profoundly harmed by expected retaliatory action, as would sectors such as agriculture and chemical
manufacturing.

Article I of the Constitution vests Congress with the exclusive authority to regulate foreign trade
and to levy tariffs. The Congress used this power to delegate to the President the authority to impose
tariffs in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, but the executive’s damaging application of tariffs and tariff
threats as leverage in trade negotiations is unlawful given the statute’s narrow focus on national security.

The Chamber also reiterates its staunch opposition to the “Reciprocal Trade Act,” a bill that would
cede even more Congressional power to the executive. As we wrote in an earlier letter to the House, this
bill would undermine U.S. economic growth and elicit damaging retaliatory tariffs against U.S. exports.

The Chamber urges Congress to support American jobs and restore Congressional constitutional
authority over trade policy by supporting the “Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act” and to
oppose the “Reciprocal Trade Act.”
Sincerely,

Neil L. Bradley