Senate overwhelmingly rebukes Trump on tariffs — but the measure won't limit his powers

Key Points
  • The Senate rebukes President Donald Trump over his tariff policy. 
  • However, the motion that passed Wednesday will not actually limit the president's ability to impose tariffs. 
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Getty Images

The Senate overwhelmingly rebuked President Donald Trump over his tariff policy on Wednesday, but the vote will not give Congress any real power to curb his trade authority.

In an 88-11 vote, the chamber passed a nonbinding motion to instruct members negotiating on an appropriations bill with the House to include language that would give lawmakers the ability to curb Trump's tariff powers. It compels neither Congress nor the president to take a specific action.

The vote is more of a slap on Trump's wrist than a real effort to block his ability to escalate a mounting trade war with China and other key trading partners.

The Senate still has not voted on a concrete proposal championed by Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., that would force Trump to get congressional approval to impose duties for national security reasons. Republican leaders have declined to take up the legislation, as it faces a likely Trump veto.

All of the senators who voted against the measure Wednesday are Republicans, according to NBC News. Those lawmakers are:

  • John Barrasso of Wyoming
  • Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia
  • Mike Crapo of Idaho
  • Mike Enzi of Wyoming
  • Lindsey Graham of South Carolina
  • Dean Heller of Nevada
  • Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi
  • Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma
  • David Perdue of Georgia
  • James Risch of Idaho
  • Tim Scott of South Carolina

Earlier, both Corker and Sen. Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican and another harsh critic of Trump's trade policy, called Wednesday's motion a "first step" toward curbing Trump's powers. Corker and Flake aren't seeking re-election this year.