Tennessee's Corker says Trump administration on 'dangerous course' with auto investigation

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. (WZTV)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., says the Trump administration's move to investigate auto imports as a potential national security threat is "an attempt to affect domestic politics."

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross initiated an investigation following a conversation with President Donald Trump. The investigation will "determine whether imports of automobiles, including SUVs, vans and light trucks, and automotive parts into the United States threaten to impair the national security as defined in Section 232."

Section 232 investigations are conducted under the authority of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 which allows such investigations in an effort to determine the effects of imports.

Ross says evidence suggests imports from abroad have "eroded our domestic auto industry." The Commerce Department statement cites a 22-percent decline in the automotive employment sector since 1990 has been countered by 16-percent growth in imports since 1998.

Corker, chair of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, issued a statement calling the decision into question.

“I am very concerned about the president abusing the authorities granted to him in Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962,” said Corker. “There is no reason to use this provision to consider imposing tariffs on the automobile industry, and this appears to be either an attempt to affect domestic politics ahead of the election or for some other transactional purpose regarding ongoing trade discussions. This is a dangerous course and should be abandoned immediately.”

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