Effort would have put steel and aluminum tariffs into doubt.
Some Senate Republicans don’t like the rationale for the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs. So much so that they’re trying to add an amendment to a spending bill that would halt any president’s ability to use that rationale without Congressional approval!
They’ve been at it for a while now, reports Politico:
[Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA)], 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.
Though the proposal is dividing the Republican caucus that's unsure if it wants to cross its own president, it looked like the GOP Senate leadership was gonna clear the way for a vote on whether to adopt the amendment – and add it to the farm bill. Would such a farm bill pass? Who knows! The farm bill is a huge piece of legislation. But advancing that amendment would significantly increase the chances that Republican skeptics would succeed in rolling back tariffs they don’t like.
So the Senate skeptics took the floor today ...
.@SenToomey, who has been railing about the Trump Admin tariffs for weeks (months? more than a year?) on the floor to lay out the rationale for his 232 amendment w/ Corker now— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) June 27, 2018
And they were so close to getting their vote!
Corker now on the floor, about to ask for UC to bring up the 232 language as an amendment to the farm bill.— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) June 27, 2018
Corker: "Is the farm bill the right place? Absolutely." Says farmers are feeling the effect of tariff proposals more than any other business https://t.co/P2NTRcgO1Q
But then ...
Dem Sen. Sherrod Brown objects to the UC to bring up the Corker/Toomey 232 tariff amendment— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) June 27, 2018
Yes, that’s right: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) objected, and made the case for keeping the tariffs – and the rationale for them – in place:
This is a big deal.
Adding Congressional approval to any Section 232 trade cases – which allow for import restrictions on national security grounds – would remove a critical trade tool, offer no replacement solution to deal with the risks caused by global industrial overcapacity, and undermine the president who – whatever you think of him – is in the middle of an attempt to rework American trade policy that has lead to surging deficits and millions of lost manufacturing jobs since 2000.
This is hardly the end of this debate. The critics of Section 232 are persistent, and will find a new avenue to attack this enforcement mechanism. But for the moment, Sen. Brown has turned them back.
Good job, Sen. Brown!