Corker working to block Trump tariffs with Bredesen’s blessing; Blackburn ‘still trying to work through this’

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says he and others are “crafting” legislation requiring congressional authority over levying tariffs in response to President Donald Trump’s imposition of stiff steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union, according to the Times Free Press. Phil Bredesen, the Democrat running to replace him, has embraced the idea. Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn has not, though she’s concerned about the tariffs and “still trying to work through this.”

“I think that the authorities are being abused, and I think a number of people around here do,” the Chattanooga Republican told Washington-based reporters Monday in a follow-up to critical tweets he put out over the weekend on the issue. “So we’re crafting some legislation, working with other offices to try to pull back some of those authorities to Congress.”

The comments by Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, came after his tweets over the weekend that put the Tennessean in conflict yet again with Trump. And the issue also spilled over yet again into the Senate contest between Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, who are vying to succeed Corker, a former Chattanooga mayor.

In addition to the already imposed 25 percent duty on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, the president is examining whether to invoke the same national security provision to slap tariffs on imports of cars, vans, trucks and vehicle parts, a move that has also drawn concern in Tennessee, which is home to three manufacturing plants, including Volkswagen, that rely on a global supply chain and worry about blowback.

… Corker tweeted he was “working with like-minded Republican senators on ways to push back on the president using authorities in ways never intended and that are damaging to our country and our allies. Will Democrats join us?”

While both Blackburn and Bredesen have fretted in recent Times Free Press interviews or statements over the tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, as well as Trump’s exploration of doing the same on autos, the former governor’s campaign has been more critical.

On Monday, Bredesen tweeted a response to Corker’s posts:

“I respect Senator Corker for putting Tennessee ahead of Washington politics. These tariffs do a lot of damage to TN businesses. For my part, I call on every Democrat and Republican who cares about our state to stand with him on this.”

In an appearance on Fox Business News’ Mornings With Maria, Blackburn said, “we are watching [the situation] very closely. Of course, we know that the intention is to punish bad actors and not the American consumer. So, that is something everybody agrees on.”

Blackburn said, “we are concerned when it comes to auto manufacturers, auto-parts manufacturers, boat manufacturers that we have in Tennessee that use a tremendous amount of sheet aluminum. … You’ve got washing machine manufacturers that are there, and they’re concerned.”

When one of the hosts noted the steel and aluminum tariffs are already in effect, Blackburn said, “Right, and we’re talking to them [administration officials] every day. And we’re waiting to see exactly what’s going to happen, what exemptions are going to take place, and how this is going to come down.”

Blackburn noted “Donald Trump goes through a process in negotiating, so we’re in the conversation, talking to Commerce and Trade and, you know, still trying to work through this.”

… On Monday, Bredesen tweeted a response to Corker’s posts:

“I respect Senator Corker for putting Tennessee ahead of Washington politics. These tariffs do a lot of damage to TN businesses. For my part, I call on every Democrat and Republican who cares about our state to stand with him on this.”

In an appearance on Fox Business News’ Mornings With Maria, Blackburn said, “we are watching [the situation] very closely. Of course, we know that the intention is to punish bad actors and not the American consumer. So, that is something everybody agrees on.”

Blackburn said, “we are concerned when it comes to auto manufacturers, auto-parts manufacturers, boat manufacturers that we have in Tennessee that use a tremendous amount of sheet aluminum. … You’ve got washing machine manufacturers that are there, and they’re concerned.”

When one of the hosts noted the steel and aluminum tariffs are already in effect, Blackburn said, “Right, and we’re talking to them [administration officials] every day. And we’re waiting to see exactly what’s going to happen, what exemptions are going to take place, and how this is going to come down.”

Blackburn noted “Donald Trump goes through a process in negotiating, so we’re in the conversation, talking to Commerce and Trade and, you know, still trying to work through this.”

The Tennessean reports that Bredesen and Blackburn, asked about the tariffs last week, gave the following responses:

“Washington needs a time out,” Bredesen said, likening broad tariffs to taking a “big ax” to a problem that needs a “scalpel.”

“The blow may be aimed at a real issue but usually creates lots of other damage in the process,” he said. “This is a perfect example of what happens when Washington takes some talking points that were dreamt up in a backroom somewhere removed from reality and tries to turn them into policy.”

… Blackburn, meanwhile, was less critical of the tariffs with a spokesman saying the congressman is concerned they could lead to a “bad deal for Tennesseans.”

Charles Flint, Blackburn’s chief of staff, said she would raise her concerns with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the U.S. trade office and members of Trump’s administration.

“Manufacturing and agriculture are central to Tennessee’s economy, and Congressman Blackburn is committed to ensuring continued growth and productivity that Tennesseans have experience due to the president’ tax cuts,” Flint said.

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