Bill reining in Trump on tariffs blocked in Senate
© Greg Nash

Legislation reining in President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE's tariff authority was blocked from getting a vote in the Senate on Tuesday.

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerLawmakers point fingers at Saudi crown prince in Khashoggi's death Corker calls for 'collective' response from Western countries if Saudi crown prince found responsible in Khashoggi's death The Memo: Trump in a corner on Saudi Arabia MORE (R-Tenn.) was trying to attach his bill as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). His legislation, which is backed by roughly a dozen senators, would require congressional approval if Trump wanted to enact tariffs in the name of national security.

Corker tried to bring up his bill and schedule a vote but was blocked by GOP Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeGraham: 'Game changer' if Saudis behind journalist's disappearance GOP senators ask EPA to block states that have 'hijacked' rule to stop fossil fuel production Pentagon releases report on sexual assault risk MORE (Okla.), who is managing the defense bill for Republicans.

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Inhofe noted he had talked to members of the House, who were "strenuously" objecting to the inclusion of Corker's amendment in the defense policy bill. He added that he would help Corker look for another bill to attach his tariff legislation to.

"I will do all I [can] to help him to get that on as an amendment, but not to the defense authorization bill. I think this would cause a lot of damage. The House agrees with this," Inhofe said.

Trump has sparked backlash from Republicans over slapping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellEx-lawmaker urges Americans to publicly confront officials Manchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Democrats slide in battle for Senate MORE (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the administration should avoid a "full-scale trade war" and he was "optimistic" that they would.

But GOP leadership has shown no interest in taking up legislation that would rein in Trump on tariffs, arguing the president wouldn't sign such a bill and that they don't want to pick a fight months before the midterm election.

Corker ripped his GOP colleagues from the Senate floor, arguing they are afraid of provoking backlash from Trump.

" 'Gosh, we might poke the bear,' that is the language I've been hearing in the hallways. 'We might poke the bear,' " Corker said during his floor speech.

The back-and-forth on the floor comes after Inhofe said earlier Tuesday that Corker was blocking votes on any amendment to the NDAA unless he could get a vote on his tariff proposal. More than 300 amendments have been filed to the bill; it's unclear how many, if any, will get a vote.

Corker added on Tuesday that he is no longer holding up amendments saying it was "ridiculous" and "childish" he and other senators couldn't get a vote.

"For he last year and a half ... under Leader McConnell, we have had one amendment vote. On amendment vote," he said.

Corker separately told reporters that the "powers that be" would block him from getting a vote as part of the NDAA and that he would, instead, look for another piece of legislation to attach his legislation to.

Asked if he was "giving up" for now, Corker fired back at a reporter: "It's blocked! I'm not giving the fight up, it's blocked. I cannot offer the amendment because they're objecting it. I'm not giving up."