WASHINGTON — With the Trump administration announcing a new round of tariffs on China, the Senate took a symbolic step Wednesday toward asserting its power over levies that President Donald Trump has already imposed.
The vote was viewed as a gauge of whether the GOP-controlled chamber had the appetite to try to rein in the party’s leader.
Trump has often sought to placate congressional critics by framing his trade measures as helpful to the Farm Belt, a GOP stronghold, tweeting from Europe on Wednesday that U.S. “farmers have done poorly for 15 years. Other countries’ trade barriers and tariffs have been destroying their businesses. I will open things up.”
Senators voted Wednesday, 88-11, to instruct the lawmakers appointed to iron out differences with the House over a spending bill to also insert a provision giving a role to Congress when the executive branch decides to impose tariffs on the basis of national-security concerns. The measure doesn’t offer any specifics about that role. “We have to rein in an abuse of presidential authority and to restore Congress’s constitutional authority in this regard,” said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who, along with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., was one of the authors of the measure.
An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.
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