Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Press Releases

Jul 11 2018

Senate Votes to Support Bipartisan Heitkamp, Corker Bill to Require Congressional Approval of National Security-Designated Tariffs

Vote Indicates Bipartisan Bill Would Pass U.S. Senate – Heitkamp Pushes for Vote

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Senate today took a test vote on bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp and Bob Corker (R-TN) to require congressional approval of tariffs designated for national security reasons. The test vote passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by a margin of 88-11. The next step is for the Senate to hold a vote on the full legislation.

The administration used national security as its reasoning for imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from the EU, Canada, and Mexico, causing retaliatory tariffs against U.S. goods like iron and steel. North Dakota exports $1.7 million worth of iron and steel products to the EU each year. Supply chain materials for agriculture and construction machinery account for 50 percent of North Dakota’s exports to the EU, so these retaliatory tariffs put North Dakota manufacturers at risk.

“Countries like Canada are not a national security threat to the United States – but this trade war is a direct threat to North Dakota’s economy,” Heitkamp said. “This vote shows that there’s overwhelming bipartisan support to give Congress oversight over decisions that affect trade and national security – big decisions that shouldn’t be decided without making the voices of North Dakotans heard. The Senate should now vote to pass this bipartisan legislation I helped introduce, and send a clear sign to the administration that rural America will not settle for being pawns in its misguided trade war.”

Heitkamp and Corker’s bill, introduced last month, would require the president to submit to Congress any proposal to adjust imports in the interest of national security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. For a 60-day period following submission, legislation to approve the proposal would qualify for expedited consideration, guaranteeing the opportunity for debate and a vote. The requirement would apply to all Section 232 actions moving forward, as well as those taken within the past two years, including the recent steel and aluminum tariffs.

Heitkamp has also cosponsored legislation with Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) to nullify the aluminum and steel tariffs.

Heitkamp has been traveling across North Dakota hearing concerns about the trade war from farmers and ranchers, manufacturers, and energy producers. Yesterday, Heitkamp brought those concerns to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in a meeting she requested to push for smarter trade policies that protect markets for North Dakota producers.

Background

Heitkamp has continued to press for smart trade policies that support North Dakota’s farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers by:

  • Pressing top officials since the beginning of this administration to protect and expand markets for North Dakota goods. Heitkamp has met with the U.S. Agriculture Secretary (USDA), U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), U.S Commerce Secretary, the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., and many other top U.S. administration officials – many of them several times – to explain that the U.S. needs smart trade policies to allow our farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers to reach new markets – not tariffs, uncertainty with NAFTA, or hostility toward our top trading partners. In February 2017, when she first met with USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, when he was a nominee for the position, the bulk of their conversation focused on trade.
  • Raising concerns about impacts of retaliatory tariffs on industries vital to North Dakota’s economy like agriculture and manufacturing. Heitkamp recently toured WCCO Belting, Inc. in Wahpeton and heard firsthand the concerns the North Dakota manufacturer has about trade wars and its ability to export its goods. Over half of WCCO’s sales are to international customers, making trade an essential part of its business model.
  • Speaking out against tariffs and uncertainty regarding NAFTA that would put the state’s economy at risk. Heitkamp has met with farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers across North Dakota to talk about the need for smart trade policies that support North Dakota. She penned op-eds in March 2017 and again in April 2018 making the case. In February, she also did an episode on her podcast, The Hotdish, about NAFTA and the importance of trade for agriculture. For the episode, she interviewed the former U.S. agricultural trade negotiator and a North Dakota barley farmer. Heitkamp recently brought a group of North Dakota agriculture leaders to the Mexican Embassy in Washington to talk about the importance of NAFTA and reinforce their commitment to a strong relationship with their customers in Mexico.
  • Pressing for analysis about the impact of the administration’s trade policies on small businesses. Heitkamp recently called on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Advocacy to analyze the impact of the administration’s tariff policies on American small businesses. Small businesses represent nearly 99 percent of all businesses in North Dakota, and support nearly 60 percent of all jobs in the state, according to SBA.

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Contact Senator Heitkamp's press office at press@heitkamp.senate.gov