Despite resistance, Corker plans to keep pushing for vote related to Trump tariffs

Authored By Chloé Morrison

Despite a lack of support from his party, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, has plans to continue to push for a vote that would require congressional approval if a president wanted to use national security as a reason to impose tariffs, as President Donald Trump has done.

“There’s a tremendous amount of support from industry in Tennessee and around the country, and we will continue to look for ways to get an up-or-down vote on the floor,” a Corker spokeswoman said via email. 

Last week, Corker introduced legislation that had bipartisan support—including from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, several other Republicans and Democrats—after Trump’s administration announced it is launching a preliminary investigation into imports of automobiles and parts.

Trump is using Section 232 of 1962’s Trade Expansion Act to “determine whether imports of automobiles, including SUVs, vans and light trucks, and automotive parts into the United States threaten to impair the national security.”

The Trump administration used that same provision of the act to propose tariffs on steel and aluminum. That prompted Mexico to retaliate.

Corker, Alexander and the other sponsors of the legislation wanted to require congressional approval of tariffs designated under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

But this week, when Corker sought an up-or-down vote and his colleagues blocked it.

On the Senate floor, Corker said he hasn’t heard of any senators who aren’t concerned about what Trump is doing with the tariffs and expressed shock at the fact that they won’t at least vote on it.

He accused his colleagues of being afraid to upset Trump before midterm elections.

He said:

I can’t believe it. I would bet that 95 percent of the people on this side of the aisle support intellectually this amendment. I would bet that. I would bet higher than 95 percent.

And a lot of them would vote for it if it came to a vote. But, no, no, no. ‘Gosh, we might poke the bear,’ is the language I’ve been hearing in the hallways… If people don’t like it, they can vote up or down. People can vote up or down.

But, no, 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. And so let’s don’t do anything that might upset the president.’

Corker isn’t seeking re-election and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, accused Corker of not caring about his party because he won’t be taking on another term.

Auto industry experts have said the tariffs are dangerous to the industry and the economy and Trump’s moves have prompted tension with allies like Canada.