Draft Resolution Calling on Congress to Reassert Its Constitutional Authority to Regulate International Commerce Including Taking Back Control over Decisions on the Imposition of Tariffs

Summary

This model policy calls on Congress to take a step toward restoring the intricate balance of power between the executive and legislative branches by reasserting congressional authority to regulate international commerce and to impose tariffs. Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution explicitly grants Congress the exclusive authority “To regulate commerce with foreign nations.” However, Congress has gradually ceded this power to the president by enacting legislation such as the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) adopted in 1977. Originally intended to be invoked in the face of grave national security threats, these Acts have recently been invoked to advance protectionist trade policies in pursuit of goals not articulated in the relevant statute. These tariffs do not enhance the country’s security; however, they do put American jobs at risk and increase prices on goods American consumers buy every day.

Draft Resolution Calling on Congress to Reassert Its Constitutional Authority to Regulate International Commerce Including Taking Back Control over Decisions on the Imposition of Tariffs

Whereas Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution confers upon Congress the exclusive authority “To regulate commerce with foreign nations.”; and

Whereas Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution also states that “The Congress shall have the Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts, and Excises to pay the debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States…”; and

Whereas support for free markets is an ALEC guiding principle; and

Whereas international commerce is a global and domestic economic engine that supports 39 million American jobs across the 50 states; and

Whereas tariffs are taxes that are placed on goods entering the U.S. and their cost is born by American consumers; and

Whereas tariffs rarely achieve their stated objectives and often end up harming the very American workers and families they purport to help; and

Whereas many U.S. manufacturers rely on imported components, and the tariffs enacted over the past few years have threatened the very American manufacturing jobs they were intended to protect and have undermined our nation’s enviable economic growth; and

Whereas with the enactment of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, Congress did delegate limited power to the president to enact tariffs; and

Whereas proposals to invoke Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported automobiles and auto parts increases prices for consumers, puts American jobs at risk and is opposed across the breadth of the U.S. auto industry because it would harm the auto sector and many downstream industries; and

Whereas the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) adopted in 1977 authorizes the president to take certain actions following the declaration of a national emergency in response to an extraordinary and unusual external threat to the nation; and

Whereas many legal scholars regard the threat of tariffs under the Trade Expansion Act as leverage of trade negotiations of 1962 as unlawful given the statute’s singular focus on national security threats; and

Whereas using national security as a rationale to impose tariffs on our closest allies in NATO and other alliances and other strategic economic partners reduces their incentive to cooperate and collaborate with us on trade challenges that are of mutual concern;

Therefore, be it resolved that the legislature of the state of [INSERT STATE] calls on Congress to reassert its authority under Article 1 Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution to regulate international commerce and the enactment of tariffs.

Be it further resolved that the legislature of the state of [INSERT STATE] calls on Congress to approve legislation to require congressional approval in order for tariffs to be applied under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.IEEPA

Be it further resolved that copies of this resolution be sent to the President of the United States, the United States Trade Representative, the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, the congressional delegation of the state of [INSERT STATE], the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, the Chairman and Ranking Member of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the U.S. Secretary of State.