Corker trying, again, to set up congressional block to Trump tariffs

Republican Sen. Bob Corker is making a new push to allow Congress to block President Donald Trump’s tariffs on U.S. allies, though GOP leaders may stop it in its tracks once again, reports Politico.

The Tennessee senator is offering an amendment written with Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to the Senate’s farm bill this week that would allow Congress to approve or disapprove of tariffs levied against countries on national security justifications.

The president has slapped steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexico, Canada and Europe and is threatening to impose new tariffs on European cars, which Corker says will eventually cause a “jailbreak” among Senate Republicans whose states are getting hit with retaliation.

“There’s going to be more and more pain accruing. July 1, there’s another round of tariffs on us. July 6, there’s another round of tariffs on us. And we’re already seeing the impact on the economy,” Corker said Tuesday as the Senate took up the bipartisan farm bill. “This is a farm bill, if you look at the impact on the ag community of these tariffs, it is severe. So I don’t know of a more appropriate piece of legislation to put this on.”

Trump opposes the amendment, and it could imperil the farm bill if the amendment is adopted. Party leaders are not sure whether it has 60 votes to succeed; Corker and Toomey argue the only way to find out is to hold a vote.

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch said he was concerned the amendment is too broad in allowing Congress input. The Utah Republican said he hopes Corker narrows the language before offering it as an amendment.

“It complicates things [on the farm bill], but we’ll see. I prefer it not be so broad,” Hatch said.

Corker and Toomey, with a coalition of liberal, conservative and moderate senators, were rebuffed earlier this month when trying to attach their amendment to a defense bill. GOP leaders did not want to confront the president so directly, and Corker was told his amendment had procedural problems because the defense bill wasn’t a revenue bill.

But the farm bill is, and the Tennessee senator said the procedural argument is now moot. Meanwhile, Republican angst continues to rise over the tariffs because as Corker put it, “pain is accruing.”

Note: There’s a separate article on Toomey who, unlike Corker, isn’t retiring from the Senate. Excerpt:

The former president of the conservative Club for Growth said his crusade is a matter of philosophical consistency and that Congress is dithering while the executive branch’s power grows and grows. And no place is it more obvious than trade.

“The Constitution is completely unambiguous. … It is the authority of Congress to establish tariffs,” Toomey said. “We’ve given him a lot of authority, and I think that is authority that should reside with Congress.”

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