Corker rebukes Republicans afraid to anger Trump on tariffs: 'We might poke the bear!'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans Cheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama MORE (R-Tenn.) ripped his GOP colleagues on Tuesday, asserting they are afraid to vote on his tariff legislation because it could provoke backlash from President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSPS warns Pennsylvania mail-in ballots may not be delivered in time to be counted Michael Cohen book accuses Trump of corruption, fraud Trump requests mail-in ballot for Florida congressional primary MORE

"'Gosh, we might poke the bear!' That is the language I've been hearing in the hallways. 'We might poke the bear. The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker amendment,'" Corker said during a heated speech where he was yelling from the Senate floor.

He added that the Senate is "becoming a body where, well, we'll do what we can do, but my gosh, if the president gets upset with us, then we might not be in the majority, and so let's don't do anything that might upset the president."

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Corker's floor speech comes as he has tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to get a vote on his legislation requiring congressional approval for tariffs enacted for reasons of national security amid broader scrutiny of Trump's recent trade moves.

The Tennessee Republican has pushed for a vote on the measure as part of the Senate's debate on the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Though GOP lawmakers have publicly fretted over Trump's tariff policies, GOP leadership has shown little interest in formally pushing back against the president. 

Corker said on Tuesday he believes nearly all of his GOP colleagues agree with his legislation, but "politics" is blocking him from getting a vote.

"I heard the senator from Texas, the senior senator from Texas, saying the other day, well, gosh, we might upset the president. We might upset the president of the United States before the midterms," Corker said, referring to Sen. John CornynJohn CornynEnough legal games — we need to unleash American energy Three pros and three cons to Biden picking Harris The Hill's 12:30 Report - Speculation over Biden's running mate announcement MORE (R-Texas).