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The Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act

This week Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) introduced the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act, which would reduce the president’s authority to unilaterally enact new tariffs by citing national security concerns. The Senate sponsors are Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). The Democratic co-sponsor in the House is Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI).

Their bill contrasts with Rep. Sean Duffy’s (R-WI) bill to increase President Trump’s tariff authority, which I have written about before.

For reasons politically expedient at the time, Congress delegated some of its taxing power away under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. In light of current abuses of this authority, it is time to restore taxing authority to Congress, where it belongs under Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

The Congressional Trade Authority Act would implement one of the planks of CEI’s new agenda for Congress, and has attracted a large, bipartisan group of co-sponsors. It has also garnered significant outside support. The National Taxpayers Union, along with more than three dozen other groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute, have sent a coalition letter to members of Congress urging them to rein in Section 232 abuses.

As recent tariff hikes begin to hurt the economy and obstruct the U.S. government’s foreign policy objectives, many politicians are realizing that trade is one area where sound policy is also sound politics. For a more thorough case on why tariffs are economically harmful, see Iain Murray’s and my paper “Traders of the Lost Ark.”