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Legislation Introduced to Increase Congressional Muscle Over Tariffs

A Congresswoman from Florida has introduced legislation that would strengthen congressional authority over tariff increases like those imposed by the Trump administration during the past year and those additional increases that are threatened.
 
The Reclaiming Congressional Trade Authority Act was introduced by Representative Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., a member of the House Ways and Means Committee’s Trade Subcommittee. The measure would limit any new or additional tariffs imposed on national security grounds—including those under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the International Emergency Economic Powers Act or the Trading with the Enemy Act – to 120 days unless approved by Congress. Section 232 was the grounds for tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed last year.
 
The measure would increase and formalize the role of Congress in non-national security tariffs, including those under Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974, the law under which recent tariffs on goods from China have been imposed. 
 
The bill is being lauded by the National Retail Federation, which has been a leading opponent NRF has been a leading opponent of tariffs, saying they are a tax on imports that drive up prices of consumer merchandise purchased by American families while increasing the cost of parts and materials used by U.S. companies to manufacture domestic products, ultimately costing many U.S. workers their jobs.
 
The Vision Council is also opposing the proposed new round of tariff increases, as those would affect all lenses, frames, sunwear, readers, eyewear accessories, and equipment parts that are manufactured in China.
 
Read EB’s previous reporting on the how the tariffs will impact the optical industry, and how the industry is responding, here and here and here.
 
According to Rep. Murphy’s website, the bill would require the current presidential administration—and all future administrations—to justify to Congress the imposition of new national security tariffs. Congress would review any tariffs proposed by the president on alleged national security grounds and would be required to vote to approve them. If Congress does not endorse the tariffs, the tariffs could not last for more than 120 days. In addition, the bill would formalize a process for Congress to review non-national security tariffs proposed by the president.
—Susan Tarrant