Senators are moving forward with legislation that would curb President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE's authority on tariffs, despite opposition from the White House.
"If the president truly believes invoking Section 232 is necessary to protect the United States from a genuine threat, he should make the case to Congress and to the American people and do the hard work necessary to secure congressional approval," Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCheney set to be face of anti-Trump GOP How leaving Afghanistan cancels our post-9/11 use of force The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her MORE (R-Tenn.) said in a statement announcing the bill.
In addition to Corker, Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampVirginia loss lays bare Democrats' struggle with rural voters Washington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill Progressives prepare to launch counterattack in tax fight MORE (D-N.D.), Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley — Presented by Connected Commerce Council — Incident reporting language left out of package Language requiring companies to report cyberattacks left out of defense bill Democrats see Christmas goal slipping away MORE (D-Va.), Lamar AlexanderLamar AlexanderMcConnell gets GOP wake-up call The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats return to disappointment on immigration Authorities link ex-Tennessee governor to killing of Jimmy Hoffa associate MORE (R-Tenn.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzCongress should reject H.R. 1619's dangerous anywhere, any place casino precedent Alabama Republican touts provision in infrastructure bill he voted against Telehealth was a godsend during the pandemic; Congress should keep the innovation going MORE (D-Hawaii), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonFauci calls Ron Johnson's AIDS comment 'preposterous': 'I don't have any clue of what he's talking about' Wisconsin senators ask outsiders not to exploit parade attack 'for their own political purposes' It's time to bury ZombieCare once and for all MORE (R-Wis.), Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenReal relief from high gas prices Senators call for Smithsonian Latino, women's museums to be built on National Mall Schumer-McConnell dial down the debt ceiling drama MORE (D-Md.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Overnight Defense & National Security — Lawmakers clinch deal on defense bill McConnell faces GOP pushback on debt deal MORE (R-Utah), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeRubio vows to slow-walk Biden's China, Spain ambassador nominees Senate confirms Thomas Nides as US ambassador to Israel Flake, Cindy McCain among latest Biden ambassadors confirmed after delay MORE (R-Ariz.), Ben SasseBen SasseThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - House to vote on Biden social spending bill after McCarthy delay CBO releases cost estimate of Biden plan Real conservatives must make a choice MORE (R-Neb.) and Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonHerschel Walker calls off fundraiser with woman who had swastika in Twitter profile Georgia reporter says state will 'continue to be a premier battleground' Critical race theory becomes focus of midterms MORE (R-Ga.) are supporting the bill.
"There is no real national security threat that these tariffs are a response to. They are an effort to impose a protectionist policy for economic purposes," Toomey said in a floor speech blasting the administration's decisions.
The bill would require Trump to submit tariffs implemented under Section 232 of the trade law for approval to Congress. Any approval legislation would then be fast-tracked through both chambers.
Senators are introducing the legislation despite receiving pushback from Trump, who earlier on Wednesday privately urged Corker not to file his bill.
“I talked at length with the president about it today. He's obviously not pleased with this effort,” Corker separately told reporters.
Corker added that Trump's main message in the phone call, which the president initiated, was for Corker to not move forward with the proposal.
But congressional Republicans are becoming increasingly frustrated with Trump's trade policy, which they worry could roil the economy just months before a midterm election.
The administration ratcheted up long-simmering tensions late last week when they announced that they would subject steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union to steep tariffs, ending an exemption for the trading allies.
A group of GOP senators met with Trump on Wednesday at the White House to discuss trade. The meeting was organized by GOP Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamMcConnell faces GOP pushback on debt deal Bottom line GOP senators introduce bill targeting Palestinian 'martyr payments' MORE (S.C.).
“I think Sen. Graham, who is the leader of that meeting, just wants to talk to the president about his end game,” Sen. John CornynJohn CornynHouse approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike McConnell faces GOP pushback on debt deal Senate leaders face pushback on tying debt fight to defense bill MORE (R-Texas) told reporters when asked about the meeting.
Graham said after the closed-door meeting that Trump is "on track to get us better trade deals" and signaled he will oppose Corker's legislation.
“Now is not the time to undercut President Trump’s ability to negotiate better trade deals. I will not support any efforts that weaken his position," Graham said in a statement.
Notably missing from the supporters of Corker's bill are members of Senate GOP leadership.
Some GOP senators are wary of picking a fight with Trump, saying lawmakers should focus on trying to change the president’s mind.
"I'm not sure right at this particular time it's advisable. ... My preference would be to convince the president that perhaps he should take a different approach," Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsBob Dole: heroic, prickly and effective McConnell gets GOP wake-up call Bob Dole, Pat Roberts endorse Kansas AG Derek Schmidt for governor MORE (R-Kan.) told reporters.
Pressed if that strategy was working, Roberts acknowledged, "to date, no."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer tees up key Thursday vote on debt deal House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters on Tuesday that he would not bring up the tariff legislation as a stand-alone bill but noted the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) was open to amendment.
“I'm not going to call it up free-standing. You're suggesting it might be offered as an amendment. NDAA's going to be opened, we'll see what amendments are offered,” McConnell said, asked about Corker's bill.
Corker has pointed to the NDAA as one potential vehicle for his tariff legislation. But getting the bill brought up as an amendment to the defense policy bill would require the consent of every senator.
Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense & National Security — Senate looks to break defense bill stalemate Senate GOP moving toward deal to break defense bill stalemate Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE (R-Okla.), who is managing the bill in the absence of Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDole to lie in state in Capitol Rotunda Bob Dole: A great leader of the 'Greatest Generation' The bully who pulls the levers of Trump's mind never learns MORE (R-Ariz.), said he thought Corker would ultimately be able to get a vote.
"I think it will. In fact, I told Corker that I would not object to it," Inhofe said, while noting he would vote against the amendment.
Asked if he thought Corker's bill should get a vote as part of the NDAA, Cornyn said the Senate should have an "open amendment process."
"It's the source of a lot of frustration here among members when people are denied an opportunity to vote. Back in the good old days ... we used to have [a] much more open amendment process," he said.
But the process for setting up roll call votes on amendments to the NDAA has ground to a halt in recent years as senators object to a vote on any amendment unless they can also get a vote on their own proposals.
Cornyn noted on Wednesday that there are already objections to amendments as lawmakers jockey for leverage, which could complicate Corker's quest to add his tariff legislation to the defense policy bill.
Business groups, considered a long-standing ally of Republicans, quickly backed Corker's bill.
Neil Bradley, the executive vice president and chief policy officer for the Chamber of Commerce, said on Wednesday that there was concern that Trump's tariff decision would cost American jobs.
"The constitutional authority of the Congress to 'regulate foreign trade' and its oversight of tariff policy is unambiguous. The modest proposal to clarify congressional prerogatives is welcome and long overdue," Bradley added.
There is no sign that the House is prepared to introduce similar legislation. Asked about the tariff legislation on Wednesday, Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanFormer Sen. Bob Dole dies at 98 No time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Juan Williams: Pelosi shows her power MORE (Wis.) noted that Trump would have to sign the bill.
“You would have to pass a law that he would want to sign into law,” he told reporters. “You can do the math on that.”
Updated at 7:03 p.m.