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McConnell: Senate won't pass bill reining in Trump's tariff authority

McConnell: Senate won't pass bill reining in Trump's tariff authority
© Greg Nash

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 Wednesday that the Senate will not pass 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, despite frustration within the caucus about the administration's recent trade actions.

"We're not going to be, in the Senate, passing a bill preventing the president from what he can legally do under current law," McConnell told Fox News on Wednesday night. 

Pressed about legislation from 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.), McConnell added: "We're not going to be passing that in the Senate." 

McConnell's comments come as a bipartisan group of senators, led by Corker, introduced legislation that would require Trump to get congressional approval if he wants to implement tariffs under the national security provisions of the trade law, referred to as Section 232. 

Trump sparked backlash among congressional Republicans after the administration announced late last week that they were slapping steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, ending temporary exemptions for the key trading allies. 

Republicans worry that Trump's moves could roil the economy months before a midterm election and overshadow their tax-reform bill passed late last year. 

McConnell added during his interview with Fox News that he wasn't "thrilled" about the administration's tariff decisions. 

But Republican leadership has shown little interest in picking a fight with Trump over tariffs. 

McConnell told SiriusXM earlier Wednesday that he would not support Corker's legislation, adding that it was an "exercise in futility." 

His comments on Wednesday come after he told reporters on Tuesday that he would not bring Corker's legislation up as a stand-alone bill but noted that the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would be open for amendment. 

McConnell also said late last week at an event in Kentucky that there was "not much" Congress could do legislatively on tariffs.