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US Senate calls for more say on tariffs in bipartisan vote

China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-13 08:02

WASHINGTON - US lawmakers went on record on Wednesday to express their frustration with the Donald Trump administration's growing use of tariffs as the Senate passed a nonbinding resolution designed to give Congress more say about trade penalties imposed in the name of national security.

The measure, which passed by an 88-11 vote, directs Capitol Hill negotiators trying to reconcile separate spending bills to include language giving Congress a role when such tariffs are put in place.

Those negotiators are free to ignore the Senate's guidance, and the role that Congress would play would have to be worked out down the road.

Senator Bob Corker, who pushed the tariff language, acknowledged the effort is "a baby step".

But Senator Jeff Flake said the vote amounted to a rebuke of President Trump's use of a national security waiver to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from China, Canada, Mexico, the European Union and other nations.

"We have to rein in abuse of presidential authority and restore Congress' constitutional authority in this regard," Flake said.

In the latest escalation of its trade offensive against China, the US said on Tuesday it will impose 10 percent tariffs on an additional $200 billion in Chinese imports. Republican US Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said the US announcement "appears reckless and is not a targeted approach".

China's Commerce Ministry said on Wednesday it was "shocked" and would complain to the World Trade Organization. In a statement, it called the US actions "completely unacceptable".

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Washington's threats were "typical bullying" and described the dispute as a "fight between unilateralism and multilateralism".

The latest actions have fueled anxiety among lawmakers about a trade war that could hurt US farmers and manufacturers. But the Senate resolution focused on a much narrower question: Should lawmakers have more say, or even final sign-off authority, before the president imposes tariffs on national security grounds?

Corker's goal is to require congressional approval before such tariffs are enacted, but he has been unsuccessful in getting a vote on such a measure. He said Wednesday's vote suggests "that people believe (Trump) is abusing his authorities". Corker said he will keep pushing for stronger, binding legislation.

The 11 senators who voted against the measure were Republicans from states where Trump has high approval ratings.

Senator David Perdue called on lawmakers to give the president "space" to negotiate better trade deals.

Ap - Xinhua - Reuters

(China Daily 07/13/2018 page11)

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