Corker’s push for tariff legislation reported picking up steam

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker outlined his proposal to give Congress authority to block tariffs during a meeting with fellow Republican senators Tuesday and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he may allow a vote on it, reports Politico.

The Tennessee Republican’s proposal would set up a fast-track process for Congress to sign off on tariffs linked to national security and is picking up steam as he attempts to attach it to the annual defense authorization bill, which is expected to come to the floor later this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday ruled out a stand-alone vote on the legislation but suggested that it could get consideration during the defense debate.

The tariff effort remains a long shot, with McConnell describing it as “contentious,” but it still represents a critical test of the GOP‘s willingness to take on the president.

“There’s a lot of interest in it, for what it’s worth,” Corker told reporters. “But, you know, doing anything around here is like pushing a major boulder uphill, so we’ll see.”

…Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), whose influential committee has jurisdiction over trade, told reporters that he wants to examine Corker’s proposal more closely “but I like some of the things he’s talking about. We just have to see how he’s put them together.”

Fellow Republicans are “concerned about” the tariffs, Hatch added, and Corker “came off well” when discussing his proposal during a private Republican Conference meeting earlier Tuesday.

But Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told reporters earlier this week that tariffs are “primarily an executive branch function, and I don’t really see Congress passing and getting a presidential signature on something constraining his authority.”

…On the Democratic side of the aisle, though, Corker is likely to win some Democratic backing, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Tuesday. Schumer declined to tell reporters whether he would support the proposal, saying that he had asked Corker to send it to him when they spoke earlier in the day.

Under Corker’s proposal, lawmakers would have a 60-day window in which to vet proposed tariffs using Section 232 of a 1962 trade law that Trump has invoked for national security-related penalties, setting up debate and a vote to halt or OK them. The measure would be retroactive for two years, allowing Congress to take aim at already-announced Trump tariffs using Section 232.

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