Senators to introduce bill to rein in Trump's tariff authority
© Greg Nash

Senators are planning to introduce legislation as soon as Tuesday to require President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Democrats wary of handing Trump a win on infrastructure MORE to get congressional approval for tariffs implemented for national security purposes. 

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerJeff Daniels blasts 'cowardice' of Senate Republicans against Trump Corker: 'I just don't' see path to challenge Trump in 2020 Ex-GOP Sen. Corker: Trump primary would be 'good thing for our country' MORE (R-Tenn.), who is spearheading the legislation, told reporters that he will roll out the bill as early as Tuesday and wants to try to get it attached to a defense policy bill that the Senate will start work on later this week.

“If a president decided he was going to invoke 232 and declare something a national security threat he would still go through all the processes he goes through now but, in the end, Congress will have to approve it,” Corker said.

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Under the bill, Corker said, a vote on approving tariffs invoked under Section 232 of the trade law could be expedited through Congress. The bill, if signed into law, would also be retroactive going back two years. 

Corker, who is retiring at the end of his term, declined to say who is backing his bill, which he noted could slip to Wednesday morning, but said he had support from senators on both sides of the aisle.

Corker said that he is hoping to add his bill to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), an annual defense policy bill that the Senate is expected to start work on as soon as Wednesday.

"There's a lot of interest in it for what it's worth. I would hope that we would be able to add it to NDAA since it's a national security bill but, you know, doing anything around here is like pushing a major boulder uphill," he said.

The forthcoming legislation comes as Republicans have expressed increasing frustrations on Trump's trade policies after the president slapped steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico ending an exemption for the key trading partners.

But getting a vote on an amendment to the NDAA would require Corker to work out a deal with each of his colleagues, including members of leadership who have downplayed the chances that Congress will pass legislation addressing Trump's tariff actions.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - White House, Congress: Urgency of now around budget GOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — McConnell, Kaine offer bill to raise tobacco buying age to 21 | Measles outbreak spreads to 24 states | Pro-ObamaCare group launches ad blitz to protect Dems MORE (R-Ky.) said last week that there is "not much" Congress could do legislatively if Trump presses forward with the tariffs.

And Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP presses Trump to make a deal on spending Trump's immigration push faces Capitol Hill buzzsaw The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Pass USMCA Coalition - Restrictive state abortion laws ignite fiery 2020 debate MORE (R-Texas), McConnell's No. 2, told reporters on Monday that it was unlikely Congress would pass or Trump would sign legislation clawing back some of his authority on trade.

Asked if he had McConnell's support, Corker smirked before adding: "I think the majority leader, my guess is, would be very receptive from a policy standpoint. Might be concerned from other standpoints.”

Any legislation would likely ultimately need support from two-thirds of both chambers, enough to overcome a presidential veto.

Corker acknowledged that the White House would likely not be enthusiastic about the bill, but said Congress is "a separate but equal branch."

Other than Corker, Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeFix the climate with smaller families Bolton emerges as flashpoint in GOP debate on Iran Frustrated GOP senators want answers from Trump on Iran MORE (R-Utah) has introduced broader legislation that would require congressional approval for any tariffs, and Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (R-Pa.) is the latest senator to sign on to that bill, but he noted on Tuesday that it doesn't yet have support from Democrats.