Republican Senator Bob Corker speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill. Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts
Republican Senator Bob Corker speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill. Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

A tidal wave of outrage against US President Donald Trump’s trade policy is forming, and through representatives in Congress, businesses are arguing, they have a constitutionally mandated means to strip the president of unlimited authority to disrupt global trade.

Hundreds of national and state business associations have voiced support for legislation in the Senate that would limit the powers some lawmakers say Trump is abusing with recent trade action.

“As you know, Article I of the Constitution assigns the Congress exclusive authority to regulate foreign trade and levy taxes, including tariffs,” the groups, which include the US Chamber of Commerce, wrote Tuesday in a letter to the Senate.

“The Congress used this power to delegate to the President the authority to impose tariffs, without Congressional oversight, to safeguard national security in the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. While the President should still have this type of authority, the current circumstances highlight the need for Congress to ensure that the authority will be used, as intended by the Congress, in the overall national interest,” the letter said.

The letter went on to voice support for legislation introduced earlier this month by Republican Senator Bob Corker, which would place some limits on executive branch trade authority.

“While we all agree on the need to ensure the international trade system is fair for American workers, companies and consumers, unfortunately, the administration is abusing the Section 232 authority delegated to the president by Congress,” Corker said in an address to Congress several weeks ago.

“Making claims regarding national security to justify what is inherently an economic question not only harms the very people we all want to help and impairs relations with our allies but also could invite our competitors to retaliate. If the president truly believes invoking Section 232 is necessary to protect the United States from a genuine threat, he should make the case to Congress and to the American people and do the hard work necessary to secure congressional approval.”

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