Senators unveil bipartisan bill meant to delay Trump auto tariffs

  • Sens. Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on Wednesday introduced a bill intended to delay the tariffs of 20 to 25 percent on imported cars and trucks that President Donald Trump is reportedly considering.
  • The bill would require the International Trade Commission to conduct "a comprehensive study of the well-being, health, and vitality of the United States automotive industry before tariffs could be applied," according to a press release.
  • In June, Trump threatened to slap a 20 percent tariff on imports from members of the European Union if that bloc's trade barriers are "not soon broken down and removed."
Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images
Chairman Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

Sens. Doug Jones, D-Ala., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on Wednesday introduced a bill intended to delay the tariffs of 20 to 25 percent on imported cars and trucks that President Donald Trump is reportedly considering.

The bill, titled the "Automotive Jobs Act of 2018," would require the International Trade Commission (ITC) to conduct "a comprehensive study of the well-being, health, and vitality of the United States automotive industry before tariffs could be applied," according to a press release.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on the bill.

“These tariffs are a tax on American consumers and they’re going to cost Alabama jobs,” Jones said in a statement. “I share the President’s goal to reinvigorate manufacturing and secure trade deals that benefit our country, but not at the expense of one of Alabama’s biggest job creators."

Alexander said he wants to delay the tariff proposal "until the President has a second opinion from the International Trade Commission about the effect those tariffs would have on the more than 7 million jobs in the American automotive industry."

Among other requirements, the study would command the ITC to analyze data on annual exports and imports of U.S.-made cars, as well as assess the effect that an increase in auto manufacturing costs would have on American jobs.

Under the Jones-Alexander bill, auto tariffs could not be applied until an ITC report satisfying those requirements is submitted to Congress.

In June, Trump threatened to slap a 20 percent tariff on imports from members of the European Union if that bloc's trade barriers are "not soon broken down and removed."

The five-page bill arrives as tensions over the Trump administration's protectionist trade policies continue to rise at home and abroad.

Numerous Republican lawmakers from the traditionally pro-free trade party excoriated the administration's proposal on Tuesday to provide a $12 billion stopgap aid package for farmers affected by the tariffs.

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., described the bailout as a pair of "gold crutches." Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., compared the Trump administration's increasing interference in markets with "a Soviet-type of economy."

Jones and Alexander had previously collaborated in a June 7 letter urging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross not to pursue auto tariffs, which they warned could “put hundreds of thousands of American jobs at risk including many in our home states.”

Jones said Wednesday that they had not received a response from Ross.

In the Senate shortly after the text of the bill was released, Jones tore into Trump's trade policies, accusing them of manufacturing a crisis "that threatens to permanently harm our businesses and our farms."

He added: "Mr. President, this is a self-inflicted wound."

Alexander, who followed Jones on the Senate floor, was equally blunt in his condemnation of both the tariffs and the bailout proposal.

“I have no doubt there’s a trade problem. Some countries are taking advantage of us," Alexander said. "I also have no doubt that shooting yourself in both feet at once is not the right solution to our problem.”

Read the full text of the bipartisan bill:

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.