Presidential Authority over Trade: Imposing Tariffs and Duties [December 9, 2016] [open pdf - 649KB]
From the Introduction: "The 2016 U.S. presidential election drew much attention to the country's trade policies as candidates advanced trade proposals intended to improve the economy and the terms of certain trade agreements. These proposals raise questions about the President's authority to act unilaterally in this area, especially his ability to impose tariffs on imported goods from certain countries, and continue to prompt debate post-election. While tariffs fell out of favor in international trade negotiations by the 1970s, the 2016 election cycle brought renewed consideration of the use of tariffs as a means to aid U.S. businesses. An understanding of the constitutional and statutory underpinnings of the tariff-making power, a cognizance of the role of tariffs in U.S. trade law over time, and an examination of the evolution of related trade legislation are necessary to evaluate any future executive actions with regard to U.S. trade policy. In this vein, this report describes the constitutional framework establishing Congress's tariff powers, as well as the President's authority to act pursuant to specific legislation from Congress. It then provides examples of statutory provisions that delegate tariff powers to the President. Finally, it concludes with an overview of how the President's exercise of his delegated tariff powers may be challenged in the courts."
CRS Report for Congress, R44707
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html