Missouri’s U.S. Senators voted with the majority of the chamber Wednesday to declare its power over levies that President Donald Trump has imposed.
The symbolic vote was viewed as a gauge of the Republican-controlled chamber’s eagerness to rein in the GOP President after his administration announced a possible second round of tariffs against China Tuesday.
The People’s Republic responded to the administration’s first round announced Friday by imposing its own tariffs on U.S. goods, including agricultural products.
Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill claims President Trump has started a trade war that will hurt Missourians. “Soybean farmers all over the state are having sleepless nights right now wondering how they’re going to ever be able to recover the high costs of input, if they are ever going to enjoy the profits that their really great farming produces in terms of high yields,” said McCaskill.
According to the University of Missouri, the state ranks number 6 in the country for soybean production with a five-year average annual value of nearly $2.4 billion.
Missouri’s Republican Senator Roy Blunt joined McCaskill in the lopsided 88-11 vote critical of the Trump administration policy. The move was a departure for Blunt who, according to FiveThirtyEight, votes with the Trump position 96% of the time. The second term Republican was apparently unmoved by President Trump’s Wednesday Tweet aimed at easing concerns among midwest farmers:
…things up, better than ever before, but it can’t go too quickly. I am fighting for a level playing field for our farmers, and will win!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 11, 2018
Trump has been framing his trade measures as helpful to the Midwest Farm Belt. Missouri, a state where agriculture supports 378,232 jobs and has an $84.4 billion economic impact, voted for Trump in the 2016 Presidential election by a 19 point margin.
The non-binding Senate vote marked the first time the chamber has gone on record over President Trump’s tariffs. The non-specific measure asks lawmakers charged with negotiating an agreement over a spending bill with the House to add language giving Congress power when the President imposes tariffs based on national security.
McCaskill said she wants to fight against China’s unfair trade tactics, but wants to protect Missouri jobs in the process. “I want to go after China cheaters,” McCaskill said. “We can go after China cheaters without costing Missourians their jobs, whether it’s agriculture or whether it’s manufacturing.”
The native of south-central Missouri’s Houston is in a tight battle for re-election with Republican challenger Josh Hawley. Polls have mostly had them in a tie. A survey this month by the Republican-aligned group Remington Research shows Hawley with a 2 point lead.