Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Pat Toomey, R-Pennsylvania, introduced on Aug. 1 bipartisan legislation, the Trade Certainty Act, that would ensure that presidents, regardless of which party holds the White House, cannot use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to impose tariffs unilaterally.
The IEEPA was not intended to be used as a trade tool, and no president has used it to place tariffs on imported products since the legislation’s enactment in 1977. The Trade Certainty Act clarifies Congress’ intent by specifying that the IEEPA does not grant the executive branch the power to impose tariffs or quotas on imported goods.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly relied on national security justifications as he has levied tariffs without involving Congress. In May, Trump threatened to impose tariffs on all goods from Mexico, the U.S.’s third-largest trading partner, under the IEEPA for issues unrelated to trade. The threat alone resulted in 10 days of uncertainty and anxiety for U.S. businesses and workers that rely on cross-border trade between the U.S. and Mexico.
On July 24, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed the Trade Certainty Act by voice vote as part of an amendment to the ARTICLE ONE Act authored by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah.
“The threat of tariffs alone has the ability to do a great deal of harm to our economy by causing immense disruption and uncertainty for American businesses and workers,” said Carper. “Tariffs should only be imposed as a part of sound and strategic trade policy, not levied on a whim because they do not require congressional approval. I’m proud to author this common sense bill with Senator Toomey that makes small, incremental changes to ensure the rules of the road are clear going forward when it comes to applying tariffs. This isn’t a partisan issue. Tariffs impact every corner of our country, red states and blue states alike. We need to put American consumers and our economy ahead of politics and make sure we protect the people we all represent — no matter who sits in the White House.”
Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-California; Mike Lee, R-Utah; Doug Jones, D-Alabama; Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona; Bob Menendez, D-New Jersey; and Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire, also joined the bill as original co-sponsors.
The text of the bill is available at bit.ly/2Mwsp0r.