McConnell opens door to tariff legislation
© Greg Nash

Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work Reforms can stop members of Congress from using their public office for private gain Name change eludes DHS cyber wing, spurring frustration MORE (R-Ky.) on Wednesday appeared to open the door to the Senate taking up tariff legislation, noting there is "concern" among fellow GOP senators over President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL players stand in tunnel during anthem, extending protests 12 former top intel officials blast Trump's move to revoke Brennan's security clearance NYT: Omarosa believed to have as many as 200 tapes MORE's trade policies.

"There is concern in the conference. ... We've all, you know, discussed this with the president a lot. And there may be a legislative solution to it, and Orrin is working on that and I'll take a look at it," McConnell said during a Politico Playbook event, referring to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchDem lawmaker calls Trump racist in response to 'dog' comment PETA calls out Trump for attacking Omarosa as a 'dog' Hatch 'not comfortable' with Trump calling Omarosa a 'dog' MORE (R-Utah). 
 
McConnell added that the panel is "going to take a look at that whole area, which is a matter of some concern to my members."

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There is growing unease among congressional Republicans over the Trump administration's tariff policies, which are prompting retaliatory actions from key trading partners. This week's decision by Harley-Davidson to move some manufacturing overseas to avoid European tariffs has renewed the fight between GOP lawmakers and Trump.

Hatch told The Hill on Tuesday that he would move legislation in the Finance Committee tied to tariffs implemented under the national security provisions of the trade law, known as Section 232. But he stressed that the details of the bill were still being worked out.
 
 
For months, Republicans have publicly pleaded for Trump to back down from his tariff fight, worrying it will roil the economy heading into the midterm elections in November.
 
But McConnell said earlier this month that there was "not much" Congress could do legislatively on tariffs. He also pledged during a Fox News interview that the Senate would not pass legislation to rein in Trump on tariffs.

"We're not going to be, in the Senate, passing a bill preventing the president from what he can legally do under current law," McConnell told Fox News on June 6.

When pressed if Republicans would be able to move Trump on the issue, McConnell on Wednesday said that he believed Trump is "pragmatic" and "at some point here will figure out whether this is working or not working and do the right thing for the country."
 
But Trump's recent trade moves have reinvigorated congressional skeptics of his tariff decisions. GOP senators debated during a closed-door lunch on Tuesday if they would hold a vote on tariff legislation as an amendment to a mammoth farm bill.
 
That amendment, offered by Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerVoters will punish Congress for ignoring duty on war and peace GOP senator reviving effort to rein in Trump on tariffs Trump draws bipartisan fire over Brennan MORE (R-Tenn.), would require congressional approval if the president wanted to implement tariffs in the name of national security. Republicans blocked Corker from getting a vote on a similar amendment during the Senate's debate on a massive defense policy bill earlier this month.
 
McConnell on Wednesday said he didn't know if the Corker amendment would get a vote as part of the farm bill debate, but he argued Republicans should have a policy of not blocking each other from getting votes on amendments.
 
"The farm bill is open for amendments," he said. "I simply don't know whether there's going to be a vote on the Corker proposal. I don't object to having the vote."