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July 18, 2018

Lawmaker Taking Steps to Remove Trump Tariffs

 |  By: Anna-Lisa Laca

While rural America continues to bear the brunt of trade war, one law maker is taking legislative steps to block the Trump administration’s tariffs. 

It appears Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) has had enough of Trump’s trade tactics. Hatch is backing legislative steps that would block the Trump administration’s tariffs. 

According to Jim Wiesemeyer, Pro Farmer policy analyst, this could be the turning point in the ongoing saga of widening trade policy conflicts between the Trump administration and a growing list of countries. This week, Hatch warned Trump that he could support legislative efforts to boost Congress’ trade powers relative to the executive branch.  

“If the administration continues forward with its misguided and reckless reliance on tariffs, I will work to advance trade legislation to curtail presidential trade authority,” Hatch said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “As the president taxes Americans with tariffs, he pushes away our allies and further strengthens [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. It is time for Congress to step up and take back our authorities. We have legislation to do that. Let’s vote.”

According to Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), there is “momentum for a legislative response or solution” to water down Trump’s trade authority as more tariffs are imposed or threatened.

Meanwhile, markets continue to feel pain and the economy will feel it to, Federal Reserve Chairman Jeremey Powell says.

"I am really firmly committed to staying in our lane, and, you know, our lane is the economy," Powell told the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday. "Trade is really the business of Congress and Congress has delegated some of that to the executive branch... But nonetheless, it has significant effects on the economy, and I think when there are long run effects, we should talk about it and talk in principle. I would say in general, countries that have remained open to trade that have not erected barriers including tariffs have grown faster, they've had higher incomes, higher productivity. And countries that have, you know, gone in a more protectionist direction have done worse. I think that is the empirical result."

According to Wiesemeyer, the Fed leader talked specifically about agriculture in a line of questioning from Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) who pressed Powell on the issue. 

"If it results in higher tariffs, then I think, you know, I hardly need to tell you what higher tariffs would do for agricultural producers," Powell observed. "Agriculture is an area where we lead the world in productivity and we are great exporters. And, you know, you would be very hard hit by these tariffs." Should the tariffs go on for a period of a couple years, Powell said, “I think certainly it would be very tough on the rural communities and I think we would feel that at the national level too.”