The Trade Security Act will require the Department of Defense, not the Department of Commerce, to justify a national security basis for tariffs imposed under Section 232
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) today introduced the Trade Security Act, legislation that will reform Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to better align the statute with its original intent as a powerful trade remedy tool for the president and Congress to respond to genuine threats to national security. This legislation addresses the Trump Administration’s efforts to justify implementing tariffs on certain imports by citing a national security concern. In order to prevent this scenario moving forward, this bill makes common-sense reforms that require the Department of Defense to justify the national security basis for new tariffs under Section 232 and increase congressional oversight of this process.
“We cannot resolve perceived trade imbalances by accusing our allies of being a threat to our national security. If a trading partner is suspected of undermining our national security, that claim needs to be thoroughly investigated by those with relevant expertise in the Department of Defense,” said Senator Jones. “Unfortunately, the current process led by the Department of Commerce has been misused to target important job-creating industries in Alabama like auto manufacturing. I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Portman that will reform the Section 232 process and help to refocus our efforts on punishing bad actors, rather than hurting American manufacturers, workers, and consumers.”
“We must hold countries like China who violate our trade laws accountable, but we must do so in a way that protects American jobs and strengthens the U.S. economy,” said Senator Portman. “I have repeatedly expressed concerns about the misuse of the Section 232 statute to impose tariffs on automobiles and auto parts, and its impact on Ohio jobs and the U.S. economy as a whole. This bipartisan legislation requires the Department of Defense to justify the national security basis for new tariffs under Section 232 and it increases the oversight role of Congress in this process. As a former USTR, I know that misusing our trade tools not only hurts our exports and our manufacturers, but also our consumers, so I urge my colleagues to support this bipartisan legislation.”
“ When it comes to national security, we must hold bad actors accountable,” said Senator Ernst. “I support the president’s ability to make trade deals and keep our nation secure, but the Department of Defense must justify the national security basis for new tariffs under Section 232, and we must increase congressional oversight of this process.”
NOTE: The Trade Security Act will reform the Section 232 statute and ensure that (1) any Section 232 actions are based on a national security determination by the Department of Defense; and (2) Congress has a larger role to play in 232 actions. Specifically, this bill will: