TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES SENATE:
On behalf of the undersigned business and agriculture organizations, we are writing to support legislation (S. 3013) by Senator Corker and a bipartisan group of senators to require the President to submit to Congress any proposal to raise tariffs in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
The U.S. business and agriculture communities are deeply concerned that the President’s unrestricted use of section 232 to impose tariffs may not be in the national interest. It is now also increasingly clear that the way the steel and aluminum tariffs have been used will result in retaliatory tariffs from our largest trading partners and closest allies, and that retaliation will have serious negative economic impacts on the United States. The tariffs are also undermining U.S. efforts to build an international coalition of like-minded countries to join the United States in combating the use of unfair trade and investment policies.
In addition, 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 would be affected, and retaliation on the same order would be expected. The U.S. auto industry — the nation’s largest manufacturing sector — and many downstream industries would be profoundly harmed by this action, as would sectors such as agriculture and chemical manufacturing that would be targeted in retaliation. The economic impact of this action would be approximately 10 times larger than that of the tariffs on imported metals.
As you know, Article I of the Constitution assigns the Congress exclusive authority to regulate foreign trade and levy taxes, including tariffs. The Congress used this power to delegate to the President the authority to impose tariffs, without Congressional oversight, to safeguard national security in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. While the President should still have this type of authority, the current circumstances highlight the need for Congress to ensure that the authority will be used, as intended by the Congress, in the overall national interest.
The legislation offered by Senator Corker and his colleagues is designed to accomplish this limited objective. The President will retain the power to impose tariffs to protect the national security subject only to confirmation by the Congress that the power is being properly used. This change is appropriate and overdue, and we urge you to support it when it is brought forward for a vote in the Senate.
President & CEO