Corker blasts Senate colleagues for blocking vote on tariffs

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker accused his party of cowering to President Donald Trump in an impassioned speech on the Senate floor Tuesday

Corker, who is not running for re-election, said some Republican lawmakers are willing to stand up to Trump, but the party leadership is fearful and wary of "poking the bear". McConnell termed it an "exercise in futility" becauseTrump would never sign such legislation.

Corker said the Senate is abdicating its oversight responsibilities by allowing Trump to impose tariffs under the guise of national security without any checks from Congress.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference after his meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018.

Trump, who campaigned on a pledge to negotiate better trade deals to bring back US manufacturing jobs, has pursued aggressive measures against trading partners from China to Canada, Mexico and USA allies in Europe.

Trump announced this month that his administration would be imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from allies like Canada, Mexico and Europe on the basis of national security.

While Trump Jr. was trying to downplay the significance of Corker's remarks about how the GOP is in "a odd place" because "it is becoming a cultish thing... as it relates to a president that happens to be of purportedly the same party", Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) was on MSNBC sounding the alarm about the state of his party.

Yet under pressure from the White House, senators had been unwilling to sign on to Corker's bill.

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"We're in a unusual place".

But Corker said it had "no effect" on the Senate's ability to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for 2019.

But Senator James Inhofe, the Republican who is managing debate on the defense bill, blocked the amendment as inappropriate for the legislation, preventing a vote. "I think this would cause a lot of damage". But his Republican colleague, Sen.

"Gosh almighty", Corker said.

"I heard the senior senator from Texas saying the other day, 'Well gosh, we might upset the president!'" Corker said. "And all my amendment would do is say, 'Look, Mr. President, you go negotiate, but when you finish, come back, and as senators and as House members, let us vote up or down'".

Corker, who leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, concluded by essentially conceding defeat. "I know that no matter what I do, this is going to be objected to", he said.

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