Order Code RS21180
Updated April 26, 2002
CRS Report for Congress
Received through the CRS Web
Legislative Procedure for Possible
Disapproval of President’s Imposition of
Safeguard Measures on Imports of Steel
Vladimir N. Pregelj
Specialist in International Trade and Finance
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
President Bush’s March 5, 2002, decision to remedy the injurious effect of imports
of various steel products on a U.S. industry under the safeguards procedure (Sections
201 through 204) of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended, is subject to possible
disapproval by congressional joint resolution. This is because the President did not
implement the specific remedial action recommended by the U.S. International Trade
Commission (USITC) after its investigation of the case and finding of injury. The
enactment of a disapproval resolution, including a possible override of its veto by the
President, results in the implementation of the USITC’s recommended remedial measure.
Such resolutions are enacted under a specific procedure, which is deemed to be part of
the rules of either house and supersedes other rules inconsistent with it The report will
be updated when circumstances require.
On December 19, 2001, the U.S. International Trade Commission transmitted to the
President the report on its investigation under Section 203 of the Trade Act of 1974 with
respect to possible injury to the U.S. steel industry caused by imports of certain steel
products. In it, the Commission determined the existence of injury and recommended, as
a remedy, the imposition over four years of annually increasing tariff quotas and annually
degressive increases in tariff rates sliding from between 20% and 10% in the first year to
between 11% and 4% in the fourth year. Exempted would be several specific products
from Canada or Mexico, imports from Israel and from beneficiaries of the Caribbean Basin
and Andean preferences.1
On March 5, 2002, the President decided to impose a different, more restrictive set
of remedial measures, consisting over three years of annually increasing tariff quotas and
U.S. International Trade Commission. “Steel; import investigations,” 66 Federal Register 67304.
Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress
annually degressive increases in tariff rates sliding from between 30% and 8% in the first
year to between 18% and 6% in the third year. Restrictions do not apply to a large array
of specific products, and to any imports from Canada, Israel, Jordan, Mexico, and 99 GSP
beneficiary countries which are WTO members.2
The President’s action has been criticized by the steel industry, in Congress and in the
affected foreign countries. In response, Representative William J. Jefferson, on March 7,
2002, introduced H.J.Res. 84 to disapprove the President’s action.
This report describes in functional order the statutory procedure–and its actual
current implementation–for the enactment of a joint resolution disapproving the
President’s remedial action of Section 201 cases where such action differs from the one
recommended by the Commission. Since the disapproval procedure set out in Section 152
of the Trade Act of 1974 and described below applies also to the disapproval of other
actions, the provisions that do not apply in the present legislative context are printed in
Detailed Congressional Disapproving Action
Relevant legislation provides a detailed specific procedure for the enactment of a joint
resolution disapproving the President’s action, which is set out in Section 152 of the Trade
Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2192). Under this procedure, a disapproval resolution is
considered on a specific "fast track" ("expedited procedure"), providing for speedy
legislative action, but containing several specific procedural requirements. Any departure
from this procedure would disqualify the resolution from being so considered, and would
subject it – like any other disapproving action that Congress might wish to take in lieu –
to the regular legislative process for the enactment of a bill or a different joint resolution.
Although the disapproval procedure has been enacted, it does not constitute a law,
but is considered an exercise of the rulemaking power of either House and deemed a part
of its rules. Consequently, it can be changed by either House (with respect to its rules) in
the same manner as any other rule. The procedure supersedes other rules only to the
extent that they are inconsistent with it. (Section 151(a); 19 U.S.C. 2191(a)) and consists
of the following steps and provisions3 (with some explanatory comments added):
(1) Introduction. After the President has, as required, transmitted to Congress the
report on his remedial action and that action differs from the one recommended by the
USITC, a joint resolution disapproving the President’s action may be introduced in either
House, with the aim of implementing the Commission’s recommendation.4
(2) Mandatory language. The operative language of the resolution is prescribed by
law and must read, after the resolving clause: "That the Congress does not approve the
U.S. President (Bush). “To Facilitate Positive Adjustment to Competition From Imports of
Certain Steel Products” (Proclamation 7529), March 5, 2002; 66 Federal Register 10553-10592.
While care has been taken in this report to accurately describe the procedure, it is recommended
that the actual language of the relevant provisions as referenced in the report also be consulted.
H.J.Res. 84 to disapprove the President’s safeguard action was introduced March 7, 2002.
action taken by, or the determination of the President under Section 203 of the Trade Act
of 1974 transmitted to the Congress on [the appropriate date].”
(3) Referral. The resolution is referred to the Committee on Ways and Means in the
House and to the Committee on Finance in the Senate (Section 152(b); 19 U.S.C.
(4) Report or discharge. If the committee of referral has not reported the resolution
within 30 days (the days are “computed by excluding – (1) the days either House is not in
session because of an adjournment of more than 3 days to a day certain or an adjournment
of the Congress sine die, and (2) any Saturday and Sunday, not excluded under paragraph
(1) when either House is not in session” (19 U.S.C. 2194(b)), the committee can be
discharged from further consideration of that resolution or any other resolution on the
same matter. The discharge motion must be made on the second legislative day after the
calendar day on which the maker of the motion has announced his intention to do so and
may be made only if the committee has not yet reported a resolution with respect to the
same matter (Section 152(c)(1); 19 U.S.C. 2192(c)(1)).
A motion to discharge, which may be made only by an individual favoring the
resolution, is highly privileged in the House and privileged in the Senate; it is subject to
limited debate (1 hour, equally divided between its supporters and opponents in the House,
and between the majority leader and the minority leader, or their designees, in the Senate).
The resolution may not be amended, and the vote on it may not be reconsidered (Section
152(c)(2); 19 U.S.C. 2192(c)(2)).
(5) Initiation of consideration. A motion to proceed to the consideration of a
reported or discharged disapproval resolution is highly privileged in the House and
privileged in the Senate; in either House, it may not be amended or debated, and the vote
on it may not be reconsidered (Section 152(d)(1) and (e)(1); 19 U.S.C. 2192(d)(1) and
(6) Floor debate. In either house, debate on the disapproval resolution is limited to
20 hours, equally divided, in the House, between the supporters and opponents and, in the
Senate, between the majority leader and the minority leader or their designees (Section
152(d)(2) or (e)(2); 19 U.S.C. 2192(d)(2) or (e)(2); a motion further to limit debate on the
resolution, or on an amendment to it, or, in the Senate, also on any other debatable motion
or appeal, is not debatable (Section 152(d)(2) and (e)(4); 19 U.S.C. 2192(d)(2) and
(e)(4)); a motion to recommit the resolution is not in order nor, in the House, is a motion
to reconsider the vote on the resolution (Section 152(d)(2) and (e)(4); 19 U.S.C.
2192(d)(2) and (e)(4)).
Debate on any amendment to the disapproval resolution is limited to one hour,
equally divided in the House between the supporters and opponents of the amendment;
in the Senate, the one-hour limit applies to any debatable motion or appeal and is divided
between the mover and the manager of the resolution (except when the manager favors
the amendment, motion, or appeal, in which case the time in opposition is controlled by
the minority leader or his designee). Such leaders in the Senate may allot additional time
to any Senator (Section 152(e)(3)and (4); 19 U.S.C. 2192(e)(3).
In the Senate, the overall limit on debate time includes in each instance the time for
debate of any debatable motion or appeal. In the House, time for debate of any other
debatable motion would be limited by general rules of the House.
In the House, motions to postpone the consideration of a disapproval resolution, or
to proceed to the consideration of other business, and appeals from the decisions of the
Chair as to the application of the Rules of the House to the procedure relating to a
disapproval resolution (which specifically govern such procedure except as provided for
in Section 152(e); 19 U.S.C. 2192(e)) are not debatable (Section 152(d)(3)-(5); 19 U.S.C.
(7) Special procedure for Senate consideration. Specific steps are set out for the
consideration in the Senate of a disapproval resolution passed by the House of
Representatives (which must be referred in the Senate to the Committee on Finance;
Section 152(f)(1)(A)(i); 19 U.S.C. 2192(f)(1)(A)(i)), namely:
(a) If a Senate resolution has been introduced (but not yet passed) before the
Senate receives the passed House resolution, the House resolution is placed on the Senate
calendar. If the Senate and the House resolutions contain identical matter (which they
would in this case, since the language of the resolution is mandatory and nonamendable),
the procedure in the Senate with respect to its resolution is the same as if no resolution had
been received from the House, but the vote on passage is on the House resolution (Section
152(f)(1)(A)(ii); 19 U.S.C. 2192(f)(1)(A)(ii).
(b) If the Senate passes its own joint resolution before receiving the passed
House resolution containing identical matter, the Senate resolution is held at the desk, and
the House resolution, when received, is deemed to have been passed (Section
152(f)(1)(B); 19 U.S.C. 2192(f)(1)(B)).
(c) If the texts of the Senate and the House resolutions are not identical, the
Senate votes on its own resolution and, if passed, automatically substitutes its text for that
of the passed House resolution, which is then returned, as amended, with a request for
conference (Section 152(f)(2); 19 U.S.C. 2192(f)(2)).
(8) Enactment. Regardless of when introduced, a joint resolution of disapproval
must be enacted (by simple majority) within 90 days (computed as in item (4)) after the
President has transmitted to Congress his report on the remedial action he will take (see
item (1)) and transmitted to the President for his signature or veto (Section 203(c)(2); 19
(9) Veto override. If the President vetoes the resolution, consideration of any veto
message in the Senate, including consideration of all debatable motions and appeals, is
limited to 10 hours, equally divided between the majority and the minority leaders or their
designees (Section 152(f)(3); 19 U.S.C. 2192(f)(3)). House consideration of the veto
message is limited by general rules of the House. In both houses, the override procedure
is also subject to the provisions of Article 7 of the U.S. Constitution (override by a twothirds majority vote).
(10) Entry into effect. Unless disapproved by a joint resolution, the President’s
remedial action takes effect within 15 days after the President proclaims it. If the
disapproval resolution is enacted, the President must proclaim the remedial action
recommended by the Commission within 30 days after its enactment (Section 203(d)(2);
19 U.S.C. 2253(d)(2).