Congressional Republicans threaten action over Trump's tariffs

11 March, 2018, 01:38 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • GOP chairman urges Trump to change direction on tariffs

The top Republican in the U.S. Congress, Paul Ryan, publicly denounced President Donald Trump's imposition Thursday of steep tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. Ryan told Home Depot Inc. employees how they and their company will be helped by the tax cuts passed previous year.

The president is expected to sign off formally on new tariffs as early as Thursday. Joe Manchin said, "It's past time to defend our interests, our security and our workers in the global economy, and that is exactly what the president is proposing with these tariffs".

Republicans fear Trump's action risks distracting voters and disrupting the US economy just months before the midterm election that will test his protectionist policies, populist rhetoric and chaotic approach to the presidency.

The looming departure of White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who has opposed the promised tariffs, set off anxiety among business leaders and investors anxious about a potential trade war.

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The president has said the tariffs are needed to reinforce lagging American steel and aluminum industries and protect national security. "Our factories were left to rot and to rust all over the place", Trump said. Trump was still hearing last-minute pleas from opponents of the tariff plan, and White House officials said they couldn't predict how the day would shake out.

According to reports, Canada and Mexico are exempt from the tariffs amid larger trade negotiations.

"I don't know that there is a legislative fix that will garner the support in both chambers that will be able to override a veto because that's what would have to happen", said Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., "So I'm sure there's going to be bills and co-sponsors, but it would be disingenuous to suggest there will be enough votes to override a veto". He has urged Republican lawmakers to stay focused on reminding voters about the tax cuts rather than White House policy surprises and scandals.

"Unless the president reverses course, it will be American consumers, workers and families who will lose", Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said.

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"Trade wars are not won, they are only lost", he said in a statement. And Sen. Jeff Flake said he was already working on legislation to nullify the tariffs. Both said they are continuing to lobby the president to change course.

"This isn't just bad for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska who need to buy a new tractor, it's also bad for the moms and dads who will lose their manufacturing jobs because fewer people can buy a more expensive product", he said.

As Trump vows to sign new bilateral treaties and amend the North American Free Trade Agreement, congressional leaders could seize the moment to reaffirm their role in United States trade policy.

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