Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs

Source: The Hill | July 11, 2018 | Jordain Carney

The Senate on Wednesday took a symbolic shot at President Trump’s trade policy amid anxiety on Capitol Hill over his tariff strategy.

Senators voted 88-11 to instruct lawmakers hashing out a deal on a government funding bill to include language “providing a role for Congress” on tariffs implemented for national security reasons, known as Section 232 of the trade laws.

The vote is nonbinding, meaning lawmakers don’t have to add trade language into the funding bill. But the vote margin, with more senators supporting it than the amount needed to override a veto, underscores the depth of concern on Capitol Hill.

“I think it’s significant that, as many of us have discussed with the president and his Cabinet, that there’s some anxiety about … tariffs,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told The Hill. “I think it’s just a way to make that point.”

Trump’s trade policies have sparked backlash from lawmakers.

The president used Section 232 to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, including slapping the financial penalties on key trading allies like the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

But Republicans have been wary of using legislation to push back against Trump months before the midterm elections.

Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) tried to attach legislation requiring congressional approval for tariffs applied for national security reasons to both a defense policy bill and the farm bill, but was blocked both times.

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