Congress Trade

Grocers, Retailers, Manufacturers Tell Congress to Take Power Back From Trump

Written by SK Ashby

A group of the nation's largest trade associations have banded together under the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and signed a letter calling on Congress to take back the power to regulate commerce.

Trump has conducted his trade war exclusively through executive action by invoking a nearly 50-year-old trade law that was never intended to be used the way Trump is using it and, to that end, the largest retailers are calling on Congress to change the law.

From Reuters:

NFTC President Rufus Yerxa said the U.S. Constitution gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, and lawmakers should ensure that tariffs were used only in exceptional circumstances.

Not since the 1930s has our country relied so heavily on tariffs in an attempt to pick winners in the U.S. market while overlooking the broader consequences for other industries and our economy as a whole,” he said in a statement.

The 23 groups outlined their concerns in a letter to the two congressional committees that oversee foreign trade, the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. [...]

The letter was signed by large U.S. trade associations, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the National Retail Federation, the Association of Global Automakers, and the American International Automobile Dealers Association.

Congress could end Trump's trade war tomorrow if they had the political will to do so, but they do not.

There are some Democratic representatives in the House that are actually sympathetic to Trump's trade war, but the greater obstacle is the fact that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will not even hold a vote on a hypothetical bill to revoke Trump's authority.

Some Senate Republicans threatened to revoke Trump's authority when he threatened to impose blanket tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico earlier this year, but Trump backed down and his authority was never tested. I'm skeptical that they would have stopped him in any case.

This issue will likely fade from public consciousnesses relatively quickly when Trump's trade war ends, but the next Congress and administration should make it a priority to amend the law so no future administration can do what Trump has done.

Across the board, it should be a priority to plug loopholes and eliminate ambiguity in all federal law to guard against the next Trump. Republicans have crossed far beyond a line where they can be expected to adhere to precedent or societal norms. They will use every creative interpretation of the law they can think of and future laws should be written to account for that.