Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) ripped his colleagues on the Senate floor today for blocking a vote on his amendment to the defense reauthorization bill that would restore congressional oversight on the president's tariff decisions in which he bypasses lawmakers by citing national security.
Corker is offering his tariff proposal as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which the Senate is now debating and could approve later this week. Referencing Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, Corker said, "I heard the senator from Texas, the senior senator from Texas, saying the other day, 'Well, gosh, we might upset the president".
"The United States Senate, right now, on June 12, 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", Corker said. "And all my amendment would do is say, 'Look, Mr. President, you go negotiate, but when you finish, come back, and as senators and as House members, let us vote up or down'". We can't do that because we'd be upsetting the president, the president of the United States.
"I can't believe it!"
Trump has recently used discretionary tariff powers, delegated for the president's use for reasons of national security, to levy taxes on imports of aluminum and steel from even close American allies.
"If we as a country begin claiming that every single item is a national security issue, what that means is that other countries will do the same", Corker said on the Senate floor.
The bipartisan legislation is sponsored by Corker and Sens.
"Gosh almighty", Corker said.
"A lot of people who want to put things that are non-germane and very often controversial", he said. "I know that no matter what I do, this is going to be objected to", he said. He said Pompeo is also set to brief the full Senate.
But Senator James Inhofe, the Republican who is managing debate on the defense bill, blocked the amendment as inappropriate for the legislation, preventing a vote.
"He continued: "'We might poke the bear!' is the language I've been hearing in the hallways.
The measure has several Republican cosponsors but Corker has accused GOP leaders of preventing him from adding his measure as an amendment to a must-pass defense policy bill because, as Corker charged Tuesday, they say they're anxious about upsetting Trump.
Paul's amendment is related to the legality of indefinite detention. Rand Paul of Kentucky.