Trump Auto Tariffs Would Be Delayed Under Bipartisan Senate Bill

(Bloomberg) -- Two senators introduced a bipartisan bill to delay President Donald Trump’s potential 25 percent tariff on foreign automobiles, in the latest congressional rebuke of the president’s aggressive trade policy.

The measure was introduced Wednesday by Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democratic Senator Doug Jones of Alabama as the president met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in Washington on trade and tariffs.

The legislation would delay the auto tariffs until the after the independent U.S. International Trade Commission presented a report to Congress on effects the tariff would have on jobs in the U.S. automotive industry.

“About 136,000 of those auto jobs are in Tennessee, one third of our state’s manufacturing jobs,” Alexander said in the statement. “Taking steps in the direction of reciprocity -- insisting that other countries do for us what we do for them -- rather than a trade war, will be much better for the American worker.”

The bill marks the latest move in the dispute over trade policy between the president and Congress, including members of his own party. Republicans also pushed back against the president’s proposal Tuesday to offer $12 billion in assistance to farmers hurt by lower prices amid the burgeoning trade war.

Jones said in the statement that the legislation “will hold the administration accountable by ensuring it has all of the facts about the positive impact American automakers have on their communities, regardless of where they’re headquartered.”

General Motors Co. on Wednesday cut its forecast for profit this year, citing higher costs of steel and aluminum linked to the U.S. slapping tariffs on the metals. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV lowered several targets as sales in China slumped. Ford Motor Co., which will report earnings later in the day, fell as much as 4.3 percent as investors anticipated continued havoc on the globalized car industry from an escalating trade war.

“We are close partners, allies, not enemies,” Juncker told the president at the White House. “We have to work together.”

Trump said the U.S. is responding to “massive” tariffs in other countries. “You could call it retaliation, but I’d rather just say that we want reciprocal,” he said.

The Commerce Department began an investigation into whether auto imports hurt U.S. national security in May. The president said Tuesday that the U.S. and the European Union should drop all tariffs.

“I have an idea for them. Both the U.S. and the E.U. drop all Tariffs, Barriers and Subsidies!” Trump said on Twitter. “That would finally be called Free Market and Fair Trade! Hope they do it, we are ready - but they won’t!”

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