Cunningham Introduces Bill to Give Congress Authority to Review Tariffs

July 10, 2019
Press Release
Promoting Responsible and Free Trade Act of 2019 fulfills a major campaign promise

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. Joe Cunningham introduced the Promoting Responsible and Free Trade Act of 2019, legislation that would give Congress a more proactive role in implementing trade policy and the authority to scrutinize unnecessary tariffs.

The president currently possesses unilateral authority to impose any tariff under Sections 201, 301 and 232 of US trade law. Before a tariff is imposed, however, the Commerce Department, International Trade Commission (ITC) or U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) must issue a report on the proposed tariff’s justification and potential effects. However, Congress doesn’t have an official say in the matter, and the President is able to impose a tariff without any congressional approval or oversight.

“This common-sense legislation would give Congress the authority to weigh in on tariffs before they are imposed by the President,” said Rep. Joe Cunningham. “No President, Democratic or Republican, should be able to unilaterally impose tariffs without Congressional approval. No one wins in a trade war, and this legislation will allow Congress to play a more proactive role in trade policy.”

“Section 232 was not intended to be used as leverage in trade negotiations or in ways that harm U.S. auto workers and U.S. consumers. Here For America applauds Congressman Cunningham’s introduction of the Promoting Responsible and Free Trade Act to provide greater Congressional oversight before such tariffs are imposed”, said John Bozzella, President and CEO of Global Automakers and spokesperson for Here For America.

This legislation would allow Congress to review and approve or deny any potential tariffs before they are imposed by the President. If approved, the president would still have final sign off; if denied, the president would no longer need to weigh in.

  • Section 201: The ITC would be required to send its report to Congress for a maximum review period of 60 days. Congress would then be given the power to pass a joint resolution of disapproval within the 60-day window to stop the tariff’s implementation.
  • Section 301: The USTR would be required to send its report to Congress for a maximum review period of 60 days. Congress would then be given the power to pass a joint resolution of disapproval within the 60-day window to stop the tariff from being implemented.
  • Section 232: The Department of Defense and the Department of Commerce would be required to send a report that reviews any national security implications and tariff recommendations to Congress for approval.
  • The Defense Department would be required to submit its report on national security implications to the president.
  • If the president determines a tariff is necessary, the Commerce Department would be required to send a report to Congress on tariff-level recommendations.
  • Congress will have a maximum of 60 days to approve the tariff report. If approved, the tariff report will go to the president for final approval and implementation.
  • There is a two-year retroactivity period for Section 232 tariffs due to national security implications. This allows Congress to review any existing Section 232 tariffs.