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Draft trade bill would give Trump expansive powers to raise tariffs

Draft trade bill would give Trump expansive powers to raise tariffs

Draft trade bill would give Trump expansive powers to raise tariffs

The United States Reciprocal Trade Act is currently being pushed by Rep. Sean Duffy. | Jacqelyn Martin/AP Photo

A new bill circulating in Congress would give President Donald Trump broad authority to raise tariffs unilaterally on specific products if he determined foreign countries were employing higher import barriers than the United States, according to a draft copy of the legislation obtained by POLITICO.

The draft legislation, called the United States Reciprocal Trade Act, lays out the argument that the president should have a wide array of tools to open the markets of United States trading partners including the authority to adjust tariff rates to reciprocal levels.

If passed, it would allow Trump either to impose higher duties on specific goods where he felt U.S. exports were being treated unfairly, or to negotiate an agreement with another country to reduce duties or non-tariff barriers on those items. The measure could intensify an existing debate on Capitol Hill surrounding legislative attempts to restrict the president's ability to impose tariffs for national security reasons.

One source familiar with the effort told POLITICO the bill is currently being pushed by Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.), who is working to gather co-sponsors before introducing it. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has been promoting the effort on behalf of the administration, the source said.

Duffys office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The draft bill outlines an advisory role for the U.S. trade representative and Commerce and Treasury secretaries, and would require Trump to consult with the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees before negotiating new product-specific agreements. But it also would grant Trump broad authority to hike tariffs by his own accord, so long as the administration publishes a Federal Register notice 30 days before taking effect.

The bill the existence of which was first reported by Bloomberg appears to have little chance of gaining enough support in either chamber of Congress to have a shot at becoming law.

We ain't gonna give him any greater authority," Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters this week when asked about potential new legislation.

Adam Behsudi contributed to this report.

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