U.S. Se­nate calls for more say on Tar­iffs in vote

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - WORLD NEWS - KEVIN FREK­ING

WASH­ING­TON — Law­mak­ers went on record Wed­nes­day to ex­press their frus­tra­tion with the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s grow­ing use of tar­iffs as the Se­nate passed a non­bind­ing resolution de­signed to give Congress more say about trade penal­ties im­posed in the name of na­tional se­cu­rity.

The mea­sure, which passed by an 88-11 vote, di­rects Capi­tol Hill ne­go­tia­tors try­ing to rec­on­cile sep­a­rate spend­ing bills to in­clude lan­guage giv­ing Congress a role when such tar­iffs are put in place.

Those ne­go­tia­tors are free to ig­nore the Se­nate’s guid­ance, and the role that Congress would play would have to be worked out down the road.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who pushed the tar­iff lan­guage, ac­knowl­edged the ef­fort is “a baby step.”

But, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said the vote amounted to a re­buke of U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s use of a na­tional se­cu­rity waiver to im­pose tar­iffs on steel and alu­minum im­ports from Canada, Mex­ico and the Euro­pean Union.

“We have to rein in abuse of pres­i­den­tial au­thor­ity and re­store Congress’ con­sti­tu­tional au­thor­ity in this re­gard,” Flake said.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion on Tues­day ramped up its trade dis­pute with China by an­nounc­ing a pos­si­ble sec­ond round of tar­iffs tar­get­ing a $200 bil­lion list of Chi­nese goods. The United States com­plains that China uses preda­tory prac­tices to chal­lenge Amer­i­can tech­no­log­i­cal dom­i­nance. Chi­nese tac­tics, the ad­min­is­tra­tion says, in­clude out­right cy­bertheft and forc­ing U.S. com­pa­nies to hand over tech­nol­ogy in ex­change for ac­cess to the Chi­nese mar­ket.

The lat­est ac­tions have fu­eled anx­i­ety among law­mak­ers about a trade war that could hurt U.S. farm­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers. But the Se­nate resolution fo­cused on a much nar­rower ques­tion: Should law­mak­ers have more say, or even fi­nal sign-off au­thor­ity, be­fore the pres­i­dent im­poses tar­iffs on na­tional se­cu­rity grounds?

Corker’s goal is to re­quire con­gres­sional ap­proval be­fore such tar­iffs are en­acted, but he has been un­suc­cess­ful in get­ting a vote on such a mea­sure. He said Wed­nes­day’s vote tells him “that peo­ple be­lieve (Trump) is abus­ing his au­thor­i­ties.” Corker said he will keep push­ing for stronger, bind­ing leg­is­la­tion.

JOHN RAOUX/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

A worker puts fin­ish­ing touches on boat pro­pel­lers at Re­gal Ma­rine In­dus­tries in Or­lando, Fla., Wed­nes­day. U.S. sen­a­tors passed a non­bind­ing resolution call­ing for congress to be given a larger say in the mat­ter of tar­iffs.

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