March 07, 2018

New Democrat Coalition calls for hearings on Section 232 tariff impacts

New Democrat Coalition calls for hearings on Section 232 tariff impacts

March 07, 2018

The pro-trade New Democrat Coalition is urging leaders of key House committees to hold hearings on the potential impacts on the United States of Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, joining the flock of GOP lawmakers who have argued in opposition to global duties.

Reps. Ron Kind (D-WI), Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Gregory Meeks (D-NY) are questioning the “process by which the President’s policy was announced” and urged congressional leadership to examine it further. Meeks and Larsen are co-chairs of the New Democrat Coalition Trade Task Force and Kind is a chair emeritus of the coalition.

On March 1, President Trump announced his intent to impose global tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum. The message drew the ire of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

“We request that the Ways and Means, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees immediately hold a series of hearings on the potential impacts of the recently announced steel and aluminum tariffs on U.S. companies, workers and consumers, global trade and diplomatic relations, the economy, national security, military readiness, and other impacted industries and communities,” the trio said in a March 7 letter.

While the lawmakers make clear that they support “strong enforcement” in response to unfair trade practices, they slam the Section 232 tariffs as a hazardous precedent-setting policy.

“The process by which the President’s policy was announced raises serious questions about how it was chosen from the alternatives presented by the Commerce Department and whether its implications were carefully thought through, including the dangerous precedent being created within the WTO,” the letter states.

Key allies -- such as Canada, the European Union and South Korea -- are the U.S.’ largest sources for steel and aluminum and sweeping tariffs would have little effect on reining in China, the lawmakers argue.

“Many of America’s allies including Canada, South Korea, and the European Union, are America’s largest sources for steel and aluminum. Furthermore, the U.S. currently has restricted trade of steel and aluminum with China, meaning that these tariffs will likely have little effect on the Chinese steel and aluminum markets,” the letter states.

The trio also asks the committee leaders to hold “additional hearings” to determine “the repercussions of Chinese trade practices and appropriate, effective measures for targeted enforcement.”