Liberal Senate Democrat shields Trump from trade blowback

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSherrod Brown says he's 'not actively considering' running for president Election Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls Overnight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens MORE (D-Ohio), a leading liberal voice on trade issues and a potential presidential candidate in 2020, objected on Wednesday to a vote on an amendment that would have taken away much of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE’s power to impose new tariffs.

Brown, who is up for reelection this fall in a major steel-producing state, slammed an amendment backed by GOP Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPoll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it Ford opens door to testifying next week Police arrest nearly two dozen Kavanaugh protesters MORE (Tenn.) and 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 (Pa.) that would require congressional approval on tariffs that the president imposes based on national security concerns.

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Brown’s objection spares Republicans from a showdown with Trump over trade, which Senate GOP leaders wanted to avoid. Republican leaders have argued that it does not make sense to clash with the president ahead of November's midterm elections, when turnout of the Republican base will be a key factor in determining which party controls the House and Senate.

The amendment would empower Congress to unwind the tariffs Trump has imposed on steel and aluminum imports from Mexico, Canada and the European Union.

“It hamstrings the president’s ability to protect America’s national security interests,” Brown said on the Senate floor, adding that tariffs are needed to “defend against further shrinking of two sectors critical to our national defense.”

He noted that Corker's proposal would take away Trump’s power to invoke what's known as Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act to impose tariffs.

“The Corker amendment would immediately remove the 232 steel and aluminum tariffs, including those on China," Brown said. "Why would any colleagues vote to let China off the hook?”

Senators who support limiting Trump’s tariff power argue that Section 232 was not intended to be used against allies such as Canada.

“It is meant to ensure that our Defense Department can procure defensive materials needed in time of war,” Toomey said on the floor. “But what do we have instead? We have this provision being invoked as a way to impose tariffs on some of our closest allies.”

Corker and Toomey had asked for the amendment to receive a vote during debate on the farm bill that's likely to become law.

Corker and Toomey had strong support for the amendment, with cosponsors like Democratic Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDoug Jones to McConnell: Don't 'plow right through' with Kavanaugh Heitkamp knocks GOP challenger for 'disturbing' comments on Kavanaugh allegations 5 things to know about Trump's escalating trade war with China MORE (N.D.), Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerKey House Dem's objections stall intel bill as deadline looms Russia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless MORE (Va.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzOvernight Energy: Warren bill would force companies to disclose climate impacts | Green group backs Gillum in Florida gov race | Feds to open refuge near former nuke site Warren wants companies to disclose more about climate change impacts Congress just failed our nation’s veterans when it comes to medical marijuana MORE (Hawaii) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenSenate Dems to Trump: Reverse cuts to Palestinian aid Overnight Defense: Details on defense spending bill | NATO chief dismisses talk of renaming HQ for McCain | North Korea warns US over cyber allegations Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law MORE (Md.).

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump, GOP regain edge in Kavanaugh battle GOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford MORE (R-Texas) told reporters Wednesday that he would have likely voted against the Corker amendment and that it was not appropriate to attach it to the farm bill.

He said there should be hearings by the committee of jurisdiction before the Senate votes on restraining Trump’s tariff authority.

“It really ought to be in the Finance Committee,” Cornyn said. “It’s not likely to become law, and it could well jeopardize the farm bill itself. It’s no secret that President Trump is not a fan of that amendment.”