Sen. Mike Lee has proposed a bill that would curb Trump's power to act unilaterally on international trade. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, Pool, File)

Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a consistent conservative critic of President Trump throughout the election campaign (although also one of his potential picks for the Supreme Court), has proposed a bill that would curb Trump’s power to act unilaterally on international trade — for example, imposing border taxes based on existing statutory authority.

“Congress has ceded far too much law making power to the Executive branch including the power to unilaterally raise tariffs,” Lee said. “Sudden hikes in trade barriers could wreak havoc on many small and midsize manufacturers in my home state of Utah that rely on imports and globally connected supply chains. Congress must be involved in any decision that would increase barriers to trade.”
The Global Trade Accountability Act would require the president to secure a joint resolution approved by both houses of Congress before any “unilateral trade action” could take effect. The act does allow for “national emergency” exceptions, but only for 90 days, after which the president would still have obtain approval from both houses of Congress.

This is an excellent idea. But the odds that Trump would sign such a thing seems to be nearly zero.

Perhaps Obama would have been more likely to sign it, but as an aide to Lee points argues, it’s also very unlikely that enough Senate Democrats would have gotten behind it to make it law before Trump’s inauguration either. So unfortunately, this becomes one of those good ideas that has to be filed away for the future.

Trump left some of his top issues out of his inaugural address

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Little or nothing on healthcare, immigration, regulations and debt.

01/21/17 12:01 AM

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