"We're in a odd place", Corker told reporters Wednesday.
In a passionate speech on the Senate floor, Corker argued that Republicans were blocking his trade proposal because they feared what Trump might do to the party if they upset him ahead of an election. We can't do that because we'd be upsetting the president, the president of the United States.
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.
Corker's legislation, written in response to Trump's recent tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, would have required congressional approval of so-called "Section 232" tariffs, which are issued in the name of protecting national security. We might upset the president of the United States before the midterms.
Corker offered the amendment in response to Trump's recent decision to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, even from USA allies, arguing they are needed for national security.
Yet under pressure from the White House, senators had been unwilling to sign on to Corker's bill. Mitch McConnell being Majority Leader with a Republican president, there has been only one amendment vote.
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But Corker said it had "no effect" on the Senate's ability to pass the National Defense Authorization Act for 2019.
"If we as a country begin claiming that every single item is a national security issue, what that means is that other countries will do the same", Corker said on the Senate floor. But his Republican colleague, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, objected to the motion.
"Gosh, almighty, I heard the senator from Texas, the senior senator from Texas saying the other day, well, gosh, we might upset the president". "But no, the United States Senate right now, on June 12, is becoming a body where, well, we can do what we can do, but my gosh if the president gets upset with us, we might not be in the majority, and so let's not do anything that might upset the president".
Corker said such procedures are "used as customarily as waking up in the morning and drinking a cup of coffee", he said.
"The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the subject matter", he said.