Republican Senator Bob Corker speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill. Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts
Republican Senator Bob Corker speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill. Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

US Senator Bob Corker says that proposed legislation which would strip the president of some of his trade authority will get a vote “very soon.”

“We had a meeting among some of the main sponsors this morning and we will be voting on it very soon,” Corker told Inside US Trade on Tuesday. He said that “a few more of the details worked out today.”

The US Constitution gives broad authority to Congress on issues related to trade, but powers have largely been delegated to the executive branch through legislation.

The bill being pushed by Corker, a Republican who became a vocal critic of Trump after he decided not to run for reelection, proposes modest changes which focus on Section 232 of a Cold War-era trade law, the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.

Section 232, which deals with the national security implications of trade, is the legal basis for tariffs that were placed on steel and aluminum imports, including those from important US allies such as the European Union, Japan and Canada.

The same statute is also being used to investigate potential auto tariffs, which likewise would target US allies.

Many lawmakers, especially in the president’s own Republican Party, have been outspoken in their opposition the Trump administration’s trade offensive, but have been slow to respond with concrete action. While Republicans have traditionally opposed protectionist trade policy, the president’s incredible popularity among the party’s political base has created an environment where members are unwilling to challenge the president.

Corker’s bill would not cover the tariffs that have been slapped on Chinese-made goods, which were imposed under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1971, which authorizes the president to take unilateral action in response to “unjustified, unreasonable, or discriminatory” practices in foreign countries.

A companion bill to the Senate version was also introduced in the House of Representatives by Republican Representative Mike Gallagher this week, according to The Hill.

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