Carper, Kaine Introduce Bill to Restore Congressional Oversight on Trade

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, and Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced the Reclaiming Congressional Trade Authorities Act of 2019 to restore the role of Congress in overseeing international trade matters. The bill would mandate expanded Congressional involvement in international trade decisions by requiring the Trump Administration – and future Administrations – to further analyze, communicate, and justify tariff actions to Congress. Congress would then review new tariffs and if the Administration used national security to justify the tariffs’ need, Congress would be required to approve them. President Trump has repeatedly relied on national security justifications as he has levied tariffs without involving Congress.

“Our Constitution gives Congress the power to oversee foreign and domestic trade agreements. However, over the years, Congress has slowly but surely ceded that authority to the executive branch, allowing presidents to take steps that impact American consumers without consulting Congress,” said Senator Carper. “Regardless of which party controls the White House, it is important that the system of checks and balances on which our democracy was built remains strong and that Congress is able to oversee policies that so directly affect our economy and our relationships around the world. The bill I am introducing with Senator Kaine would help to ensure that this Congress – and future Congresses – have a say in trade policy decisions that affect small businesses, farmers and families across the country.”

“For too long, Congress has delegated its Constitutional role in overseeing international trade to the President. What we’ve seen from the Trump Administration is an abuse of that power. President Trump’s tariffs have created uncertainty in the economy, hurting U.S. consumers, farmers, and businesses. This bill will protect the American economy by ensuring Congress reclaims its oversight of trade decisions,” said Senator Kaine.

The Reclaiming Congressional Trade Authorities Act of 2019 will:

  1. Require Congressional approval for national security tariffs after 120-day period.
    • President would retain authority to initiate trade actions, but within 120 days of taking such action, Congress will be required to affirmatively authorize the action.
  1. Formalize Congressional involvement in non-security tariffs.
    • Requires United States Trade Representative to provide Congress with clear goals and strategy behind any new tariff actions.
  1. Broaden trade actions that require Congressional review.
    • If the President or Cabinet officials make public statement tying tariff actions to national security, Congress will be required to review after 120-day period.
  1. Require Administration to provide more information to Congress.
    • Requires International Trade Commission to provide Congress with analyses of proposed trade actions and creates opportunity for relevant Congressional committees to weigh in on these trade decisions.

You can view the full bill text here.

You can view a one-pager of the bill here.