February 06, 2019

Young Helps Introduce Trade Security Act to Reform National Security Tariff Process

Bipartisan Legislation Requires the Department of Defense, Rather than the Department of Commerce, to Justify National Security Basis for New Tariffs Under Section 232

WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) joined Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) today to introduce the Trade Security Act, legislation that will reform Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to better align the statute with its original intent as a trade remedy tool for the president and Congress to respond to genuine threats to national security. In keeping with the original intent of Section 232, this bill makes common-sense reforms that require the Department of Defense to justify the national security basis for new tariffs under Section 232 and increase congressional oversight of this process.   

“Indiana is the most manufacturing intensive state in the country, and Hoosiers continually express their desire for Congress to exert its Constitutional role in the 232 process, which has the ability to detrimentally impact Hoosier farmers and manufacturers if wrongly utilized. I’ll continue working with Senator Portman and the Finance Committee to ensure Hoosiers have a seat at the table for future trade discussions,” said Senator Young.

In the House of Representatives, Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and Darrin LaHood (R-Ill.) introduced the House companion version of the bill today. The text of the bill is here. A brief summary is below.

NOTE: The Trade Security Actreforms the Section 232 statute to ensure that (1) any Section 232 actions are based on a national security determination by the Department of Defense; and (2) Congress has a larger role to play in 232 actions. Specifically, this bill will:

  • Bifurcate the existing Section 232 process into an investigation phase, led by the Department of Defense, and a remedy phase, led by the Department of Commerce. Splitting these responsibilities, while guaranteeing consultation between the two departments at all stages of the process, plays to each department’s strengths to ensure that the statute is used for genuine national security purposes.  
  • Require the Department of Defense – instead of the Department of Commerce – to justify the national security basis for new tariffs under Section 232 and make the determination about the national security threat posed by imports of certain products. If a threat is found, the Department of Defense would send its report to the president. In the event that the president desires to take action based on the finding of a national security threat, the president would then direct the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Trade Representative, to develop recommendations for how to respond to the threat. After receiving the recommendations of the Secretary of Commerce, the president would decide whether to take action.
  • Increase the role of Congress in the Section 232 process by expanding the process whereby Congress can disapprove of a Section 232 action by passing a joint resolution of disapproval. Currently, Section 232 contains a disapproval resolution process limited only to the disapproval of actions on oil imports, which was inserted into Section 232 in 1980 by Congress in response to concerns about the misuse of the statute. This bill would expand the use of that disapproval resolution process to all types of products. The reformed disapproval process will only apply to future Section 232 actions. 
  • Require consultation with Congressthroughout the Section 232 process.