November 25, 2019

For Awareness Only: Coalition Sends Letter Asking Congress To Limit Section 232 Tariff-Setting

In a letter sent last week, a group called the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users asked Senate Finance Committee Chair Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to include a sunset provision to address current steel and aluminum tariffs in any forthcoming legislation to rein in President Donald Trump’s ability to impose Section 232 duties.

Please note: the Metals Service Center Institute is not a part of this coalition. As noted in MSCI’s 2017 comments to the Trump administration, the organization supports the president’s Section 232 authority in general and specifically supported steel and aluminum penalties on non-NAFTA countries. In those comments, MSCI also called for measures that would help government officials and industry understand the impact of the tariffs on downstream sources of demand, specifically regarding the issues of transshipments and circumvention.

As Connecting the Dots reported previously, the two senators have been trying to come up with legislation to curb the president’s authority by rewriting parts of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. As Politico notes, the two senators have agreed that any new legislation would not undo the tariffs that currently are in place. The coalition disagrees with that promise, and asked the two senators to reconsider.

Sens. Grassley and Wyden are not the only lawmakers who want to limit the president’s powers. As Metal Miner reminded readers last week, in 2018 a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation calling for congressional approval of Section 232 tariffs. That bill—which never was voted on—would have required the president to submit a proposal to Congress if the president seeks to adjust import levels. After submission of the proposal, Congress would have had 60 days to agree or disagree with the president’s plan.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) was one of the primary sponsors of that bill. This year the senator is sponsoring similar legislation, but it has not been considered by lawmakers.

Stay tuned to Connecting the Dots, which will continue to report on all deliberations—pro or con—regarding the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs, and the president’s tariff authority in general.