Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker erupted on the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon — oftentimes raising his voice and wildly flailing his hands — his animated anger implicitly aimed at his GOP colleagues, whom he accused of being afraid of President Donald Trump.
"No no no, we might poke the bear' is the language I’ve been hearing in the hallways. 'We might poke the bear. The president of the United States might get upset with us," Corker said, deriding his colleagues.
Corker was infuriated over objection to his tariff legislation, which would seek to limit Trump's authority to issue national security tariffs. The bill, which has 13 co-sponsors, would require the president to receive Congressional approval before restricting trade on the grounds of national security.
Corker has been angling to get his legislation added as an amendment to the defense appropriation bill, a must-pass measure that the Senate is currently debating. On Tuesday, he asked that his amendment be called up so it could be voted up-or-down by the Senate. But his Republican colleague, Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, objected to the motion.
In recent days, Republican leaders have opposed the measure, citing their concerns over tying the president's hand in negotiating a better trade deal.
The objection incensed Corker, who went on a lengthy and impassioned speech bemoaning his frustrations.
"Because senators, United States senators who are elected by the people in their state, don't want to cast a tough vote, they block everybody from voting," Corker said.
"I heard the senior senator from Texas saying the other day, 'well gosh, we might upset the president of the United States before the midterms! 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. We can't do that because we'd be upsetting the president,'" Corker said, referring to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.
"I can't believe it," Corker exclaimed.
"If people don't like it, they can vote up or down," Corker went on. "But no, the United States Senate right now, on June 12, is becoming a body where, well, we can do what we can do, but my gosh if the president gets upset with us, we might not be in the majority, and so let's not do anything that might upset the president."