GOP Sen. Grassley Pushing Legislation to Reign in Trump Tariff Powers
Senate Finance Chair and Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said he is moving ahead with legislation to curb the president’s authority when it comes to trade powers, specifically threatening tariffs on whomever, whenever he or she sees fit.
Grassley, whose state of Iowa and its farmers have been hammered in the ongoing trade war with China, said Congress has created a constitutional crisis by surrendering too much power to the executive branch when it comes to trade.
“It adds up to something pretty simple: Congress has delegated too much authority to the president of the United States,” Grassley told reporters, according to Politico.
Grassley contends that policy decisions that impact global trade like imposing tariffs should be made by the elected representatives of the people, and that giving the power to slap tariffs on countries and allies goes beyond what the founding fathers and framers of the Constitution intended.
However, Grassley was sure to make clear that current President Donald Trump is not at fault, and said he’s just using the power that Congress ceded to the executive branch years ago.
“There’s absolutely no constitutional crisis that this president or any other president has created,” he said. “The constitutional crisis comes from the elected representatives of the people over the last 80 years making a dictator out of the presidency … let’s say making a kingship out of the presidency of the United States.”
Grassley’s legislation would target measures that give the president broad powers to impose tariffs on imports if a review by the Commerce Department finds that those goods threaten domestic industries critical to national security.
Trump has used his powers to enact tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, $200 billion worth of Chinese imports, and has made a number of other threats, including recently against Mexico. The tariffs against Mexico didn’t go into effect after the country agreed to help curb the flow of illegal immigrants across the southern U.S. border.
Grassley plans to reign in presidential authority under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.
“This is not about Trump. It’s about the balancing of power,” he said.
Grassley said a lot of progress has been made and he expects a compromise bill will be ready “pretty soon.”
“You can imagine how the president feels about tariffs,” Grassley said. “He may not look favorably on this, so I want a very strong vote in my committee and then, in turn, a very strong vote on the floor of the Senate.”
Meanwhile, Trump has asked Congress to back a House bill that actually expands his power to impose tariffs, which will never happen now that control of the House belongs to the Democrats.