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Trump Said to Consider Seeking More Tariff Authority but Grassley Says No

Friday, January 11, 2019
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

President Trump is reportedly considering asking Congress to approve legislation that would expand his ability to raise import tariffs in response to foreign trade barriers, but a key lawmaker is already rejecting the idea.

According to a Bloomberg News article, the draft U.S. Reciprocal Trade Act “would seek to give the president broad authority to increase U.S. tariffs if he considers other countries’ tariff and non-tariff measures to be too restrictive.” President Trump has already used existing trade laws to raise tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from virtually all countries on national security grounds as well as thousands of products from China due to that country’s policies on technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation.

However, prospects for congressional passage of the bill, if and when it is introduced, appear dim. The House of Representatives now features a majority of Democrats, who the article states “are unlikely to give Trump additional executive power.” Incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has similar reservations, telling reporters “we ain’t going to give him any greater authority” and “we already gave him too much.” Grassley’s comments likely refer to the president’s Section 232 and 301 tariff hikes, which have resulted in retaliatory duties by major trading partners that have hurt farmers in Grassley’s home state and elsewhere.

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