Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced the Reclaiming Congressional Trade Authorities Act of 2019 to restore the role of Congress in overseeing international trade matters.
The bill would mandate expanded Congressional involvement in international trade decisions by requiring the Trump administration — and future administrations — to further analyze, communicate and justify tariff actions to Congress. Congress would then review new tariffs and if the administration used national security to justify the tariffs’ need, Congress would be required to approve them. President Donald Trump repeatedly relied on national security justifications as he has levied tariffs without involving Congress.
“Our Constitution gives Congress the power to oversee foreign and domestic trade agreements. However, over the years, Congress has slowly but surely ceded that authority to the executive branch, allowing presidents to take steps that impact American consumers without consulting Congress,” said Carper. “Regardless of which party controls the White House, it is important that the system of checks and balances on which our democracy was built remains strong and that Congress is able to oversee policies that so directly affect our economy and our relationships around the world. The bill I am introducing with Sen. Kaine would help to ensure that this Congress — and future Congresses — have a say in trade policy decisions that affect small businesses, farmers and families across the country.”
The Reclaiming Congressional Trade Authorities Act of 2019 will:
— Require Congressional approval for national security tariffs after a 120-day period. The president would retain authority to initiate trade actions, but within 120 days of taking such action, Congress will be required to affirmatively authorize the action.
— Formalize Congressional involvement in nonsecurity tariffs. Requires U.S. trade representative to provide Congress with clear goals and strategy behind any new tariff actions.
— Broaden trade actions that require Congressional review. If the president or cabinet officials make public statement tying tariff actions to national security, Congress will be required to review after the 120-day period.
— Require the administration to provide more information to Congress. Requires International Trade Commission to provide Congress with analyses of proposed trade actions and creates an opportunity for relevant Congressional committees to weigh in on these trade decisions.
The bill text is available at bit.ly/2FwEnlS, and a one-pager of the bill is available at bit.ly/2Yr1ozj.