February 13, 2020

New Democrat Coalition Letter to Trump on Section 232 Tariffs

Washington, DC – Today, the New Democrat Coalition (NDC) Trade Task Force sent a letter to President Donald Trump rebuking him for not releasing the Section 232 report on proposed tariffs on imported automobiles and auto parts to Congress, violating the law. This refusal to comply undermines the constitutional balance of power between our co-equal branches of government. NDC Members also urged him to abandon any further tariff action that threatens the American automotive sector, auto workers, and the economy. The President’s ongoing abuse of unilateral trade actions under the guise of national security concerns undermines the global rules of trade that have both made the U.S. economy and workforce the envy of the world.

On May 23, 2018, President Trump initiated the Section 232 investigation into the effects of imports of automobiles and automobile parts on national security. The completed report was submitted by the Secretary of Commerce to President Trump in February 2019. On December 20, 2019, President Trump signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2020, which required his administration to release the completed Section 232 report by January 19, 2020. However, despite the legal requirement, the results of the report still have not been released to Congress or the public. In his refusal to comply with the law or respect congressional authorities on trade, the President has continued to threaten to impose tariffs on autos and auto parts while offering no justification or evidence. The uncertainty of this looming threat could have severe detrimental effects on the U.S. automotive industry and American jobs.

“As Members of the New Democrat Coalition Trade Task Force, we once again want to reiterate that we do not believe that imported automobiles and auto parts and the hard-working Americans in the auto sector are a national security threat…

Your [President Trump] willful disregard for these laws threatens American workers as well as the balance of power that is so essential to our Constitution. We implore you to not only release the Section 232 report on imported automobiles and auto parts as required by law, but strongly urge you to abandon any further tariff action that threatens the American automotive sector, auto workers, and our economy,” the letter reads. 

The NDC has been outspoken on the President’s abuse of the Section 232 process. Last Congress, the NDC called for hearings on the impacts of Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. This Congress, the NDC Trade Task Force also sent a letter to President Trump in response him stating that he did not believe the auto sector posed a national security risk, urging him to abandon any further action that threatens the American automotive sector. 

Read the full letter here or below:

Dear President Trump,

American autoworkers, parts suppliers and retailers, dealers, vehicle service providers, and millions of consumers have lived under the threat of tariffs since you initiated the Section 232 investigation into auto imports on May 23, 2018. The Secretary of Commerce submitted the Section 232 report to you in February 2019; however, the report continues to be hidden from Congress and the public.

As Members of the New Democrat Coalition Trade Task Force, we once again want to reiterate that we do not believe that imported automobiles and auto parts and the hard-working Americans in the auto sector are a national security threat. As you have admitted publicly, there is no national security risk from automobiles and auto part imports. In fact, your abuse of the Section 232 tariff process jeopardizes our national security by alienating our allies and threatening the economic security of American workers. Imposing tariffs under Section 232 on autos and auto parts for reasons not related to national security clearly oversteps the authority granted by Congress.

Further, to help bring more transparency to this process, Congress included a provision in the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2020 which required the release of the section 232 report by January 19th of this year. You signed this legislation into law; however, you continue to refuse to release the report to Congress and the public.

You are therefore not only in violation of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, but also the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2020.  Your willful disregard for these laws threatens American workers as well as the balance of power that is so essential to our Constitution. We implore you to not only release the Section 232 report on imported automobiles and auto parts as required by law, but strongly urge you to abandon any further tariff action that threatens the American automotive sector, auto workers, and our economy.

We look forward to the immediate release of the Section 232 auto report to Congress and the abandonment of the tariffs you are considering implementing. 

Sincerely, 

Reps. Terri A. Sewell (AL-07), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Ron Kind (WI-03), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), Don Beyer (VA-08), Veronica Escobar (TX-16), and Susan Davis (CA-53)



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