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