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Legislative Update: Section 232 Tariffs, Exports to Cuba, Deemed Exports

Tuesday, April 02, 2019
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Section 232 Tariffs. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says he expects to introduce in the coming weeks legislation to reform the process by which the executive branch can use national security as a basis to restrict imports under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Grassley said this bill would:

- impose new consultation and reporting requirements throughout the section 232 process to keep Congress fully informed;

- limit any Section 232 restrictions imposed by the president to a defined period of time unless extended by an act of Congress;

- require the executive branch to consult with Congress while the restrictions are in effect and provide reports on the achievement of any national security objectives as well as the economic impact of restrictions; and

- require a product exclusion process that is transparent and accountable to Congress.

Grassley said his goal is for Congress to “take back some of [its] delegation of its Constitutional authority and rebalance trade powers between the two branches in a responsible way that doesn’t impede a president’s ability to protect America’s national security.” It appears he is working to craft a bill that can appeal to supporters of both the Congressional Trade Authority Act and the Trade Security Act (click here for more details on these measures).

In the meantime, Sens. Tim Kaine, D-Va., and Tom Carper, D-Del., introduced March 27 the Reclaiming Congressional Trade Authorities Act (S. 899), which would likely impose broader and stricter limits on the president’s authority to impose tariffs than Grassley’s forthcoming bill. According to information from Kaine’s office, highlights of this bill include the following.

- The president would retain the authority to initiate trade actions under Section 232, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and the Trading with the Enemy Act, but Congress would have to vote to affirmatively continue them within 120 days of their imposition.

- The president’s trade actions under Section 301 would be subject to “a disapproval prerogative of Congress” and the U.S. trade representative would be required to provide Congress with clear goals and strategy behind any new tariff actions.

- Congress would be required to review tariff actions if the president or any Cabinet official makes a public statement tying them to national security.

- Enhanced International Trade Commission analyses would be required to bring a trade action under these authorities and more congressional committees would be included in trade action justification.

For more information on these bills, or assistance encouraging lawmakers to pass them, please contact Nicole Bivens Collinson at (202) 730-4956.

Exports to Cuba. H.R. 1898 (introduced March 27 by Rep. Crawford, R-Ark.) would modify the prohibition on U.S. assistance and financing for certain exports to Cuba under the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000.

Deemed Exports. The Protecting American Technology Act (S. 937, introduced March 28 by Sen. Kennedy, R-La.) would direct the Commerce Department to require institutions of higher education and other research facilities to obtain deemed export licenses for foreign nationals conducting scientific research at such institutions and facilities.

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