When the U.S. Senate this week registered strong, though non-binding, objections to President Donald Trump’s use of tariffs amid an escalating trade war, Idaho’s two senators were among the few dissenters in the 88-11 vote.
Sen. Mike Crapo cited procedural concerns for his “no” vote, but Sen. Jim Risch, who has been increasingly vocal in his support of President Trump in recent months, said the Senate’s move would place “onerous restrictions” on the president’s authority to implement tariffs for national security reasons.
Trump cited Section 232 of federal trade laws, on tariffs imposed for national security reasons, when he imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports — including imports from key U.S. trading partners and allies the European Union, Mexico and Canada.
In the Senate vote on Wednesday, according to Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill, the Senate instructed lawmakers working out a deal on a government funding bill to include a clause “providing a role for Congress” on tariffs imposed under Section 232.
Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has said he’ll bring up tariff legislation in his committee, which could include a narrowing of the national security clause in the trade law. But Hatch voted with the majority in the 88-11 vote.
“Chairman Hatch has announced the Finance Committee that has jurisdiction on this matter will be working on legislation to balance properly the relationship between Congress and the executive on trade national security issues,” Crapo said in a statement. “That is an appropriate venue for consideration of such critical trade and national security issues, not the conference committee of an appropriations bill.”
Risch’s spokeswoman, Kaylin Minton, said, Risch “disagreed with arguments being made that the president was exceeding his authority on the national security waiver,” and said, “The motion to instruct the conferees would create onerous restrictions on the president’s use of Section 232 and the senator disagreed with those restrictions.”
The 11 senators who voted no all were Republicans. In addition to Risch and Crapo, they included Sens. John Barasso of Wyoming; Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia; Mike Enzi of Wyoming; Lindsey Graham of South Carolina; Dean Heller of Nevada; Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi; James Inhofe of Oklahoma; and Tim Scott of South Carolina.