Congress Considering Legislation to Limit US President’s Authority Over Trade

Lawmakers are facing a head to head conflict with the US President as the effects of the steel tariffs are felt across the US. Below Geoffrey R. Morgan, Founding Partner at Morgan Legal Group, LLC, comments on the overall impact of the steel tariffs on the nation, and the consequences that may come.

Following my commentary on the American Institute of International Steel’s lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Trump’s steel tariffs, it has become apparent that the president’s actions have angered more than just steel consumers and handlers in the United States. They have also angered lawmakers, particularly those whose constituents in farming and manufacturing towns fear retaliatory tariffs.

According to multiple reports, Senator Orrin Hatch (R – Utah) has warned President Trump that, should existing tariffs and trade threats not subside, he would support legislation to limit the President’s trade authority as currently delegated by Congress. Sen. Hatch, who has been known as an ally to the president, called Trump’s recent trade policies “misguided and reckless” and is reportedly working with colleagues, both within and outside the Senate Finance Committee, to determine the likelihood of getting the votes needed to limit the president’s invocation of Section 232. No vote has yet been scheduled.

Now that the effect of the tariffs is being felt in congressional districts across the country, they have been widely criticized by almost all steel-using sectors and industries. Many report steel prices have risen by 30% or more, including that which is manufactured domestically.

Recall that the American Institute of International Steel’s lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the tariffs as an unauthorized delegation of legislative authority to the President under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Although I originally opined it would be difficult to overturn the legislation with a Republican congress – particularly given the lack of precedent – it now appears the rift between the executive and legislative branches has never been greater and, with growing steel prices and constituent dissatisfaction, lawmakers are considering doing just that.

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