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Senate trade theater: Empty steps in the right direction

July 15. 2018 10:03PM

President Donald Trump’s reckless disregard last week for America’s strategic and economic partners brings to mind Otter’s inspirational speech from Animal House.

“I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody’s part!”

Enter the United States Senate. Lacking the political will to assert its Article I powers, the Senate last week took two meaningless steps in the right direction. On Tuesday, senators voted 97-2 on a nonbinding resolution in support of NATO. On Wednesday, the Senate voted 88-11 on a symbolic motion in support of Congress taking back its authority to set tariffs.

With such overwhelming support, why didn’t the Senate actually vote to rein in the President’s abuse of his tariff authority? Speaker Paul Ryan says such a move would limit Trump’s leverage with America’s trade partners.

Trump is using national security as a pretext in an escalating trade war that is already hurting American employers and consumers. Politicians in both parties say they oppose the tariffs, but have so far only taken symbolic steps to oppose them.

Support for NATO and for trade is all well and good, but not good enough. Congress has long abdicated many of its core responsibilities to the White House. Congress should reestablish its role as the first among our three branches of government.

Politics Editorial

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