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Sewell, Walorski announce amendment on auto tariffs

Brandon Moseley

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Thursday, U.S. Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D-Selma) and Jackie Walorski (R-Indiana) announced the House passage of a bipartisan amendment to the Commerce, Justice and Science funding bill calling on the Trump administration to release the Commerce Department’s Section 232 report on imported automobiles and auto parts.

“It has been over four months since the Department of Commerce submitted their Auto 232 Report to the White House, and neither Congress nor the public has seen the report,” Sewell said. “Unfortunately, I think I know why this Administration will not share this report. It’s because the products hard-working Americans in the auto sector design, build, sell and service are not a threat to our national security. The auto workers in my district are terrified that any day President Trump could announce tariffs that would threaten their jobs.”

Sewell has been an opponent of a Trump Administration’s proposal to dramatically raise tariffs on auto imports, including auto parts. She led a bipartisan group of 159 lawmakers in a letter urging Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow and President Donald J Trump (R) against imposing new tariffs that could potentially harm the auto industry. Sewell and others have filed bipartisan legislation to delay auto tariffs by requiring the International Trade Commission (ITC) to conduct a comprehensive study on the economic importance of automotive manufacturing in America before tariffs on automobiles and auto parts could be applied. She is also the lead sponsor of the bipartisan, bicameral Trade Security Act, which would reform Section 232 to increase Congressional oversight in the Section 232 process and reassign national security threat assessments to the Department of Defense.

In May, the President elected not to impose the threatened tariffs; but warned that that remained a possibility in the future.

Walorski said then, “President Trump’s decision not to impose auto tariffs in the coming days comes as a relief to millions of American workers and families who would bear the cost of a massive tax hike on cars and auto parts. I support the president’s goal of ensuring a level playing field for U.S. businesses and workers, but auto tariffs would be devastating to manufacturers in my district and across Indiana that make cars, RVs, auto parts, and more. Moving forward, the administration should make the Section 232 national security investigation report public and should not take any action that would threaten our nation’s strong economic momentum.”

The tariffs would be a potentially devastating blow to Alabama, where auto manufacturers are a powerful driver of the local economy. Mercedes, Honda and Hyundai assembly plants have made the state a hub for car and light truck production; and Mazda and Toyota are in process of building another major plant in the state. Although the cars are all made in the U.S.A. a lot of the parts that are used to make them are not. The suggested 25 percent tariff on imported automobile parts would substantially raise the price of each vehicle. The industry would then get hit with a double blow by retaliatory tariffs on those cars that are exported to other nations. This would effectively price many of the Alabama made exports out of some markets.

Sewell cited a report by the Peterson Institute, what warned if auto 232 tariffs were implemented and foreign countries retaliated, 624,000 jobs could be lost in the auto sector.

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To see video of Sewell speaking in favor of her amendment on the floor of the House:

Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell represents Alabama’s Seventh Congressional District.

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