Corker: Republicans afraid to anger Trump on tariffs

Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) to accuse his Republican colleagues of being afraid to vote against President Trump.

Corker claimed that a lot of Senate Republicans would vote for his amendment restricting the president's tariff powers if it came to a floor vote, but they continued to block it.

"Gosh, almighty, I heard the senator from Texas, the senior senator from Texas saying the other day, well, gosh, we might upset the president". We might upset the president of the United States before the midterms. So gosh, we can't vote on the Corker amendment because, we're taking rightly so, the responsibilities that we to do with tariffs and revenues.

Tuesday's outcome probably ensures that despite the GOP's longstanding support of free trade, and Republicans' discomfort with many of Trump's protectionist moves, the president will continue to have a free hand as he upends US trade policy established over decades. "I can't believe it", Corker thundered from the floor.

Corker was infuriated over objection to his tariff legislation, which would seek to limit Trump's authority to issue national security tariffs.

But the amendment ran afoul of the House's constitutional prerogative to originate revenue bills. 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.

However, the stated rationale Tuesday for blocking Corker's bill, which he'd hoped to include as an amendment on the National Defense Authorization Act, involved procedural objections and concerns that its inclusion might slow down completion of the annual defense policy bill.

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Corker also said that in the year and a half of Sen. Mitch McConnell being Majority Leader with a Republican president, there has been only one amendment vote.

"Because senators, United States senators who are elected by the people in their state, don't want to cast a tough vote, they block everybody from voting", Corker said.

"95 per cent of the people on this side of the aisle at least intellectually support this amendment".

"'Gosh, we might poke the bear!' That is the language I've been hearing in the hallways".

Corker, who is retiring at the end of his term, has been working for the past week to get a vote on his amendment that would give Congress the power to reign in the president's ability to impost tariffs on national security grounds, such as those on Canadian steel and aluminum which were announced this month.

"The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the subject matter", he said.

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