White House

Grassley to Introduce Bill to Constrain Presidential Tariff Powers

Senator Chuck Grassley (R, Iowa), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., October 2, 2018. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters )

Senator Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) said Tuesday that he will continue to advance legislation designed to reassert congressional authority over trade policy.

Without criticizing President Trump directly, Grassley suggested during a call with reporters that legislation is necessary to reverse a decades-long slide in which Congress has allowed the executive branch to coopt its constitutional power to impose tariffs.

“It adds up to something pretty simple: Congress has delegated too much authority to the president of the United States,” Grassley said during a call with reporters.

Grassley, whose largely agricultural constituency has been particularly harmed by Trump’s trade war with China, argued that the president’s unconstrained protectionist policies are the result of Congress’s failure to assert itself.

“There’s absolutely no constitutional crisis that this president or any other president has created,” he said. “The constitutional crisis comes from the elected representatives of the people over the last 80 years making a dictator out of the presidency . . . let’s say making a kingship out of the presidency of the United States.”

Grassley explained that the legislation he plans to introduce would limit presidential authority under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which Trump used to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

In addition to his ongoing trade war with China, Trump threatened to use emergency economic powers to impose a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican imports last week in an attempt to force concessions on immigration enforcement. Free-trade advocates in the Republican caucus, boasting a veto-proof majority, vowed to block the move but were spared from making a stand after Trump rescinded the threat in light of a public commitment from Mexico to do more to address illegal immigration.

Grassley said he soon expects to reach a compromise with Republican senators Pat Toomey and Rob Portman, who have introduced competing legislation to rein in presidential tariff authority and whose support he will require in order to advance the bill against likely opposition from the White House.

“You can imagine how the president feels about tariffs,” he said. “He may not look favorably on this, so I want a very strong vote in my committee and then, in turn, a very strong vote on the floor of the Senate.”

Most Popular


In Defense of Coleman Hughes

Picture the scene: A young man walks into a congressional hearing to offer witness testimony. His grandfather was barbarically brutalized by people who are now long dead. The nation in which he resides built its wealth of his grandfather’s brutalization. The question: Should his fellow citizens pay the young ... Read More
Film & TV

Toy Story 4: A National Anthem

The Toy Story franchise is the closest thing we have to an undisputed national anthem, a popular belief that celebrates what we think we all stand for — cooperation, ingenuity, and simple values, such as perpetual hope. This fact of our infantile, desensitized culture became apparent back in 2010 when I took a ... Read More

College Leaders Should Learn from Oberlin

Thanks to their social-justice warrior mindset, the leaders of Oberlin College have caused an Ohio jury to hit it with $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a case where the school couldn't resist the urge to side with its “woke” students against a local business. College leaders should learn ... Read More

Joe and the Segs

Joe Biden has stepped in it, good and deep. Biden, if he has any hope of ever being elected president, will be dependent on residual goodwill among African Americans from his time as Barack Obama’s loyal and deferential vice president — so deferential, in fact, that he stood aside for Herself in 2016 even ... Read More
Film & TV

Fosse/Verdon and the Dismal #MeToo Obsession

In the final episode of Fosse/Verdon, one of the two titular characters, Bob Fosse, is shooting one of the greatest films of all time. The other, Gwen Verdon, is having a quarrel with her unspeakably dull boyfriend about whether he approves of her performing in a road-show production of a Broadway musical. These ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Madcap Caution of Donald Trump

The worry last week was that the Trump administration was ginning up fake intelligence about Iran blowing up oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz to justify a war against Iran. Then, this week, President Donald Trump said the Iranian attacks weren’t a big deal. The episode is another indication of the ... Read More