Toomey bill to limit Trump’s tariff power gaining support |
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Toomey bill to limit Trump’s tariff power gaining support

Deb Erdley
U.S. Senator, Pat Toomey, answers questions during an interview inside of his offices in Downtown Pittsburgh on Feb. 19, 2019.

A bipartisan Senate bill that seeks to rein in President Trump’s authority to impose tariffs is gaining momentum.

The bill, originally sponsored by U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Allentown and Mark Warner, D-Va., would require the president to get congressional approval to impose tariffs based on national security. In recent weeks another nine senators have signed on as co-sponsors. Sixty business, trade and policy groups have endorsed the bill to limit Trump’s power to impose tariffs, which are taxes on imports.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington, D.C. last month, Toomey said Trump’s 2018 tariff’s on steel and aluminum served no national security purposes and have already hurt Pennsylvania companies here and across the state.

“The Constitution is very clear that responsibility for tariffs lies with Congress. If the president wants (tariffs) for national security, he must go to Congress and get approval,” Toomey said.

Now Americans for Prosperity, a small government political advocacy group backed by the Koch Network, is adding its weight to the proposal. The group launched an ad campaign Monday thanking Toomey and the other co-sponsors and targeting other senators to sign on and support the bill.

“Tariffs are a tax on consumers and businesses and Americans deserve a vote on whether these taxes can be levied. Many Pennsylvania farmers and manufacturers have already been harmed by tariffs. Additional trade barriers will only make things worse. We thank Senator Toomey for standing up for his constituents and strongly encourage lawmakers to get on board and back his bill,”Beth Anne Mumford, state director of Americans for Prosperity PA said in a statement announcing the group’s campaign.

The move to limit the president’s tariff powers came even as Trump set the stage to expand his ability to impose tariffs without Congressional approval.

During his State of the Union address, the president asked Congress to approve the U.S. Reciprocal Trade Act, a bill introduced last month by U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis.

“If another country places an unfair tariff on an American product, we can charge them the exact same tariff on the same product that they sell to us,” Trump said in his address.

Deb Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Deb at 724-850-1209, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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