Corker: Trump asked me not to file tariff bill

Greg Nash

Sen. Bob Corker said President Trump called him on Wednesday and asked him not to move forward with legislation limiting some of his authority on trade, but the Tennessee Republican said he would do so anyway.

“I talked at length with the president about it today. He’s obviously not pleased with this effort,” Corker told reporters.

Corker said that the two had a “fairly lengthy” conversation about the forthcoming legislation. Asked if Trump was objecting to the legislation, Corker added: “Oh yeah.” 

Pressed if the talk with the president was “tense,” Corker demurred, saying that they had a “heartfelt conversation.”


Corker and a bipartisan group of senators are expected to unveil legislation later Wednesday to require Trump get congressional approval when he wants to implement tariffs under the national security provisions of the trade law, known as Section 232.

The GOP senator confirmed that he was planning to move forward with his bill regardless of Trump’s objections, calling the fight a “legislative prerogative.”

“I don’t think there’s anybody on our side of the aisle that doesn’t understand that the 232 authority is being greatly abused,” Corker told reporters. “… I’m a United States senator and, you know, I have responsibilities.”
Corker, who has in the past exchanged sharp words with Trump, declined to say how the president responded to the GOP senator saying he would move forward with the legislation, but said they had “a difference of opinion.”

“He feels this takes away his negotiating ability,” Corker said.

The legislation comes after the Trump administration sparked frustration by announcing last week that the U.S. would slap steep steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico, ending exemptions for the key trading allies.

Corker has pointed to the National Defense Authorization Act, which the Senate turned to on Wednesday, as one potential vehicle for his tariff legislation.

But getting the bill brought up for an amendment vote would require the consent of every senator, some of whom could be wary of picking a fight with the president.

“There are people here that probably have concerns about going against the president,” Corker acknowledged Wednesday. [But] to me this is the kind of thing that should pass 100 to nothing.” 

Tags aluminum tariffs Bob Corker Canada china tariffs Donald Trump EU Mexico Tariffs
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