Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said July 17 that he will work to advance legislation to curtail the president’s trade authority if the Trump administration continues with its “misguided and reckless reliance on tariffs.” Hatch’s comments come amid increasing concern among both Republicans and Democrats about the effects on U.S. businesses and workers of the Section 232 and Section 301 tariffs the administration has imposed in recent months as well as the retaliatory duties several major trading partners have levied against U.S. goods.
In a speech on the Senate floor, Hatch said he supports “enforceable international rules that level the playing field for American businesses, innovators, and entrepreneurs,” the protection of U.S. intellectual property rights around the globe, and “a trade agenda that serves the American people.” However, the use of tariffs to achieve these objectives is “misguided” because “pure and simple, tariffs are a tax on American businesses and consumers” that “threaten to undermine the success of tax reform.” Further, imposing tariffs “against our allies and partners in Europe, Canada, Mexico, and around the world” in particular is “closing off international markets that our farmers, ranchers and other exporters depend on.”
As a result, Hatch said that if the administration continues its use of tariffs in this manner he will work to advance legislation that would restrict the trade authorities Congress has delegated to the president. He said he is discussing legislative options with other senators “both on and off the Finance Committee” and will continue to do so.
However, Hatch said he would rather work with the administration to “advance a trade agenda that serves the interests of the American people and job creators.” In particular, he called on the president to “engage in negotiations” to address “the challenges posed by China,” including its use of “mercantilist trade policies to benefit state-owned and Communist Party-controlled firms.” While those efforts are underway, Hatch said, the administration should not impose further tariffs on U.S. allies and partners, particularly on autos and auto parts.
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