Corker slams GOP colleagues, says they're too afraid to 'poke the bear'

Blanche Robertson
June 13, 2018

Senate GOP leaders blocked a vote Tuesday on legislation that would give Congress veto power over certain presidential tariffs - prompting Sen.

Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker ramped up his criticism of his Republican colleagues Wednesday, railing on GOP leadership for not wanting to take on President Donald Trump on core Republican issues like trade. "I can't believe it", Corker thundered from the floor.

"He continued: "'We might poke the bear!' is the language I've been hearing in the hallways. So gosh, we can't vote on the Corker amendment because, we're taking rightly so, the responsibilities that we to do with tariffs and revenues.

Pressed on whether he feels Republicans are now in a "cult-like situation", Corker acknowledged that there are some GOP lawmakers who stand up to Trump and it would be "unfair to try to say" that "about every member". McConnell termed it an "exercise in futility" because Trump would never sign such legislation.

But the as the floor manager, U.S. Sen. "'The president might get upset with us as United States senators if we vote on the Corker Amendment, so we're going to do whatever we can to block it!'" "We can't do that because we'd be upsetting the president, the president of the United States'". His bill, which is backed by roughly a dozen senators, would require congressional approval if Trump wanted to impose tariffs in the name of national security.

Republican lawmakers have expressed concerns about the Trump administration's tariffs, but they've also been unwilling to embrace Corker's amendment over both procedural issues and broader concerns about undercutting Trump's negotiating position.

"We can't do that because we'd be upsetting the president, '" Corker said, referring to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn. He told reporters last week he supported Corker's amendment, but didn't think "this is a time to pick a fight with the President, in the run-up to a midterm election".

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The Oklahoma Republican said he did not like when Senators try to put amendments like Corker's in must-pass legislation. As the floor manager, Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.) objected. Inhofe said he would work with Corker to find another bill that could serve as a vehicle for his amendment "but not to the defense authorization bill".

The senator added that "if people don't like it they can vote up or down".

Out of frustration and disappointment with his Republican colleagues, Sen.

"I heard the senior senator from Texas saying the other day, 'Well gosh, we might upset the president!'" Corker said.

Cornyn's office declined to comment.

"The Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the subject matter", he said.

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