Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

Sen. Corker: GOP Afraid to 'Poke the Bear' by Challenging Trump

Sen. Corker: GOP Afraid to 'Poke the Bear' by Challenging Trump

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker ramped up his criticism of his Republican colleagues Wednesday, railing on GOP leadership for not wanting to take on President Donald Trump on core Republican issues like trade.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Senator Bob Corker on Tuesday sought an up-or-down vote on his amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would require congressional approval of tariffs designated under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

The senator's comments come one day after he blasted Senate Republicans for refusing to give a vote on bipartisan legislation that he is sponsoring to give Congress the chance to accept or reject tariffs imposed by the president. "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'".

"So I would like to join Senator Corker in finding another bill, and I would do all I could to help him get that on as an amendment". Corker said he believes his colleagues would've voted differently if they were not fearful of opposing Trump.

Trump announced this month that his administration would be imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from allies like Canada, Mexico and Europe on the basis of national security. "We are the ones that, per the Constitution, have been charge with the ability - actually the responsibility to deal with tariffs; to deal with revenues".

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.

But Corker wasn't interested in the alternative and railed at fellow Republicans for being unwilling to risk the president's wrath in an election year.

"A lot of people who want to put things that are non-germane and very often controversial", he said.

"Well, that would be hyperbole", Corker said.

Sounding exasperated, Corker said Republican senators overwhelmingly agree with the concept behind his bill, but are afraid of upsetting the president. He said Republicans "on this side of the aisle support intellectually this amendment".

"'Gosh, we might poke the bear!' is the language I've been hearing in the hallways", Corker said, his voice rising.

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