Their argument centers on the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, a U.S. law aimed at protecting America’s Cold War-era defense industrial base. Section 232 of that act lays out how a U.S. president can tax specific imports if the Department of Commerce deems them a threat to national security.
The Trump administration launched its Section 232 probe of foreign autos in May 2018. Six months ago Trump agreed with an administration study that some imported vehicles and components are “weakening our internal economy” and could harm national security. He has threatened to tax them by as much as 25 percent.