Carper, Toomey Encouraged by GAO Tariff Exclusion Process Recommendations to Commerce Department

Senators previously sought GAO review of the tariff exclusion process in a 2018 request 

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade, Customs, and Global Competitiveness, and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) today reacted to the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) report detailing recommendations to the Department of Commerce regarding changes to its Section 232 tariff exclusion process for steel and aluminum products.

Following former President Trump’s actions to impose tariffs on several steel and aluminum imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, Senators Carper and Toomey requested that GAO investigate how Commerce conducts its exclusion process for companies requesting relief from these tariffs, and how Commerce can continue to communicate changes to the process to the general public.

“Manufacturers in the First State and across our country continue to be adversely affected by misguided tariffs imposed by the Trump Administration. And while I’m encouraged by the steps the Commerce Department has taken to improve its convoluted exclusion process, there is still more work to be done to ensure that there is transparency and consistency for Delaware businesses in this exclusion process,” said Carper. “I’m grateful to the public servants at GAO—our government’s independent watchdog—for the time and effort they spent to conduct this thorough review. I look forward to seeing the Commerce Department implement GAO’s wise recommendations in short order.” 

 “Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs have wrongfully burdened consumers and manufacturers, especially in Pennsylvania, which is why so many companies have sought exemptions,” said Toomey. “I’m grateful the Government Accountability Office has worked to bring transparency to this opaque process and that the Department of Commerce has taken many of the GAO’s recommendations. While this is a positive development, there is more work to be done, including necessary improvements to the tedious process of applying for an exemption. Ideally, Congress would soon re-exert its authority over national security tariffs and require Congress to approve a president’s decision to impose these tariffs, but, until then, I’m grateful the administration is taking steps forward to help our manufacturers.”


In 2018, former President Trump imposed tariffs on several steel and aluminum imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Shortly thereafter, Senators Carper and Toomey requested that GAO investigate the application process for companies applying for a tariff exclusion from the Department of Commerce. GAO released those findings in September of 2020, recommending that Commerce improve its exclusion request process.

This supplemental December 2021 GAO report recommends the Department of Commerce regularly review and update its public guidance to reflect any changes to the Section 232 tariff exclusion process, as well as provide greater transparency as to its decision-making process for exclusion requests, so that the tariff exclusion process is fair and provides certainty and predictability to companies in Delaware and across the nation.