The U.S. Senate took President Donald Trump to task on trade but fell short of curtailing his power to impose tariffs.
In an 88-11 vote on Wednesday, the Senate approved a symbolic motion backing a role for Congress in requiring tariffs based on national security, such as those Trump imposed on steel and aluminum imports and is contemplating on autos. The vote came a day after the administration said it would impose a new round of 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods as part of a dispute over alleged Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property.
The non-binding effort was sponsored by retiring Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican who has been a critic of Trump’s trade agenda and is especially concerned about damage to his home state from a tariff on auto imports.
“This is not being imposed for national security reasons,” Corker said on the Senate floor. “This is an abuse of presidential authority.”
For Republicans wary of taking on a president popular with GOP voters, the vote was a display of frustration over Trump’s tariffs. Yet it also shows their reticence to open themselves to criticism from the president before November’s congressional elections that will determine whether the GOP maintains control of the House and Senate.
The Senate often takes such test votes as a way to build momentum for eventual binding legislation. Corker said the vote suggests “strong support” for giving Congress a bigger role on tariffs and that he will seek a binding vote.
Trump’s latest move to ratchet up tariffs on Chinese goods raises the prospect that China could strike back by tripping up U.S. companies doing business in the Asian nation — and tech is especially vulnerable.
The escalating trade war with China caused stocks and commodities to slide in markets worldwide. In the U.S., trade-sensitive shares led the decline, with Caterpillar Inc. and Boeing Co. slumping. The benchmark S&P 500 Index sank 0.6 percent as of 2:52 p.m. New York time.
Senator David Perdue, a Georgia Republican who is one of Trump’s top allies, said on the Senate floor that the motion would undermine Trump during future trade talks.
“I don’t understand why this body tries time and again to tie the hands of this president,” Perdue said. “Credibility in negotiating trade terms is absolutely critical.”
The Senate motion advises negotiators on an unrelated energy and water appropriations bill to include language giving Congress a …read more
Source:: Time – Politics