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U.S. senators introduce bill requiring Congress to approve imposing tariffs on national security grounds

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WASHINGTON – Republican and Democratic U.S. senators plan to introduce as soon as Tuesday legislation that would force President Donald Trump to obtain Congress’ approval before imposing tariffs on national security grounds, a senior senator said on Tuesday.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said legislation would be introduced on Tuesday or Wednesday that would pare back the president’s authority under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

Prompting criticism from many members of his own Republican party and business groups, Trump decided last month to open a trade investigation into whether auto imports had damaged the U.S. auto industry, which could lead to tariffs of up to 25 percent on “national security grounds.”

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Trump had cited similar security concerns in March in imposing U.S. steel and aluminum duties.

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Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to pursue better trade deals in order to save U.S. jobs, has pursued aggressive measures against trading partners from China to Canada, Mexico and U.S. allies in Europe.

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This has worried some Republican lawmakers who strongly back principles of free trade, warning that Trump could trigger a trade war that would destabilize the economy and ultimately hurt American workers.

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“We plan to offer either later today or in the morning a bill that would redefine the 1962 trade act, as it relates to 232, the national security component,” Corker told reporters at the U.S. Senate.

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“What this would do is redefine that and say that the president would go through the same steps that he goes through, but at the end of the day, if he decides that he wants to put tariffs in place, Congress would have to approve those,” he said.

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Corker declined to say how many other senators supported the legislation, but said there was “a big list” of both Republicans and Democrats.

He said the measure’s backers were considering offering the measure as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a defense policy bill that is one of the few pieces of legislation Congress passes every year.

The Senate is expected to consider its version of the NDAA as soon as this week.

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That would increase its chances of becoming law, especially given likely resistance from Trump.

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“My guess is it might not be so positive,” Corker said, when asked about the measure’s likely reception at the White House.

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