WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee hit a roadblock Tuesday in his attempt to get a vote on trade legislation that would require congressional approval of tariffs imposed in the name of national security.
Corker sought to attach his proposal to must-pass defense legislation now before the Senate, but his attempt to force a vote was defeated when Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., objected.
Sounding exasperated, Corker said Republican senators overwhelmingly agree with the concept behind his bill, but are afraid of upsetting the president.
"We might poke the bear is the language I've been hearing in the hallways," Corker said.
Corker's amendment targeted President Donald Trump's tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum, as well as future tariffs imposed by presidents who invoke their authority to curb imports in the interest of national security. Under his bill, such tariffs would qualify for an expedited review and vote by Congress.
Corker essentially described GOP senators as unwilling to buck Trump for fear of the potential political consequences. Corker has opted not to seek re-election after finishing out his second term.
"The United States Senate right now on June 12th is becoming a body where, well, we'll do what we can do, but my gosh if the president gets upset with us, then we might not be in the majority, so let's not doing anything that might upset the president," Corker said.
Inhofe says inclusion of the amendment would jeopardize passage of the defense bill or delay its passage.