The Hill: GOP leaders signal they will try to narrow Trump's tariffs

The Washington Post  The Washington Post

"I disagree with this action and fear its unintended consequences", the speaker of the House said in a statement, while welcoming the temporary exemptions granted to Mexico and Canada.

Republicans worked for days both behind the scenes and with public pleas to try to get Trump to back down, or significantly curtail, his threat of tariffs. "I will immediately draft and introduce legislation to nullify these tariffs, and I urge my colleagues to pass it before this exercise in protectionism inflicts any more damage on the economy". On Monday, the U.S. Court of International Trade, which hears cases involving trade and customs law, dismissed a challenge by a group of Canadian solar panel manufacturers that sought to block a 30 percent Trump tariff on imported solar cells. That "nullification crisis" was brought to an end by President Andrew Jackson's declaration of the supremacy of federal law, cementing his place as a hero to American nationalists.

Brown is not the only Democrat championing Trump's tariffs.

Senator Pat Roberts, the Kansas Republican, described the tariffs as a "tax on consumers" in a statement Thursday night. His main criticisms of Trump, published in a political bible Flake released last summer, zero in on Trump's uncouthness and lack of any tether to reality; Flake says these qualities have infected the Republican Party, making it impossible for him to run for re-election in good conscience.

His comments in a Cabinet meeting Thursday come hours before a 3:30 p.m. meeting to formalize the tariffs amid uncertainty in the West Wing over which countries will be exempted from the protectionist measure. John McCain, expressed concern that Trump's sharp tariffs will actually hurt the US economy.

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U.S. President Donald Trump gives out pens he used to sign presidential proclamations placing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to workers from the steel and aluminum industries at the White House in Washington, U.S. March 8, 2018.

"I don't think Republicans will put up with this, and I personally believe that we may be able to stop it in the Congress", Sen.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona says, "Congress can not be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster". Furthermore, using "national security" as an excuse to unilaterally impose tariffs opens the door for other countries to do the same - allowing them to bypass long-established global trade rules to gain an unfair advantage over American businesses and workers.

"We just want fairness", he added.

And Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., said that the president's "bad ideas" will kill steel jobs. "Don't weaken his hand", said Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Pa., a Trump ally who is running for the Senate in November. Flake has criticized Trump as a stain on the Republican Party and Trump, taking the bait, has engaged in name-calling in response - "Senator Flake (y) - while calling Flake weak on crime and the border".