Tuesday, Aug. 22 — U.S. Rep. Don Beyer of Northern Virginia, who serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, today blasted a proposal by former president Donald Trump to impose universal tariffs on all imports. Beyer called for passage of the bipartisan Congressional Trade Authority Act to prevent future presidential abuses of tariff authority.
“Donald Trump’s plan to impose universal 10 percent tariffs on all imports is idiotic, illegal, and would be a disaster for our economy. It would also immediately violate numerous trade agreements, including the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement which Trump himself signed.
“Trump is proposing intentional inflation; if put into practice this would dramatically raise costs for the American people on a huge number of essential goods and services. No one would be spared from Trump’s insane new taxes, the chaos and damage to American businesses and jobs would be catastrophic.
“The Constitution clearly empowers Congress, not the president, to determine trade policy, but Donald Trump repeatedly abused his presidential powers to impose misguided tariffs. Trump’s latest harebrained scheme underscores how important it is for Congress to reassert its constitutional authority over trade policy, which we should do by passing the Congressional Trade Authority Act.”
Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution delegates to Congress “the power to… regulate Commerce with foreign Nations.” Congress has granted limited trade authorities to the Executive Branch, most notably with respect to national security and in cases where foreign trade practices violate trade agreements. Past presidential administrations historically used these authorities sparingly and in consultation with Congress, however the Trump Administration frequently abused them to unilaterally impose tariffs without consultation or coordination with Congress.
Beyer and Representatives Mike Gallagher (R-WI) reintroduced the bipartisan Congressional Trade Authority Act to reassert Congress’ legal authority over trade policy by requiring the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.