Trump Wins Fight Over Tariff Power in Senate

Elias Hubbard
June 13, 2018

Bob Corker ripped into his party Tuesday for sidestepping a vote on his amendment to roll back U.S. President Donald Trump's trade authority - by blocking it altogether.

Corker said on Tuesday he believes almost all of his GOP colleagues agree with his legislation but "politics" is blocking him from getting a vote. On the Senate floor, Corker accused Republicans lawmakers of being afraid to "poke the bear" when they find themselves on the other side of the president. "'The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker Amendment, so we're going to do whatever we can to block it!'"

Corker has been angling to get his legislation added as an amendment to the defense appropriation bill, a must-pass measure that the Senate is now debating. Mitch McConnell being Majority Leader with a Republican president, there has been only one amendment vote. We can't do that because we'd be upsetting the president, the president of the United States. Corker did not hide his frustration.

"'We might poke the bear' is the language I have been hearing in the hallways", Corker said in an emotional Senate speech. "But no, the United States Senate right now, on June 12, is becoming a body where, well, we can do what we can do, but my gosh if the president gets upset with us, we might not be in the majority, and so let's not do anything that might upset the president".

Trump announced this month that his administration would be imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from allies like Canada, Mexico and Europe on the basis of national security.

Corker's amendment would provide a congressional review process for certain executive branch trade actions taken for national security reasons, such as those taken by Trump with respect to steel and aluminum. Trump brought a group of Republican senators to the White House last week to argue against the need for the Corker legislation, and called other GOP senators individually, including from Singapore as he prepared for the North Korea summit.

"I don't want to do anything that is either going to jeopardize the passage of the defense authorization bill or delay the passage", said Sen. But the senator leading the defense debate, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, said Tuesday he wouldn't go along because it risked holding up Pentagon funding and wasn't directly related.

"If we as a country begin claiming that every single item is a national security issue, what that means is that other countries will do the same", Corker said on the Senate floor.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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