There is a growing rift within the Republican Party over what to do about the president’s proposal to implement tariffs.
President Trump’s plan hasn’t been implemented yet, but it would include 25 percent steel tariffs and 10 percent aluminum tariffs. The trade barriers would potentially not affect the NAFTA nations of Mexico and Canada, upon trilateral trade agreement.
Trump opponent Jeff Flake, Senator from Arizona, was at the forefront of Republicans’ trade policy critics.
“I would like to see what we can do for him imposing tariffs and that should be something Congress does, not the president,” Flake said, while stating his belief that the Trump tariffs would become null and void under national security regulations in Section 232 of trade law.
Senator Mike Lee of Utah was also vocal in his opposition to tariffs and supported legislation to return partial trade authority to Congress.
“Congress has delegated its authority in this area to the executive branch in great abundance over the last century or so,” Lee said to Forbes. “This legislation would seek to return some trade authority to Congress as a way to protect against unilateral decisions from the executive branch.”
Meanwhile, Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado voiced his view that Congress would be “forced to act” if Trump went through with the tariffs.
“There is a series of legislative actions that could be taken to reverse the decision, obviously with the president supporting them they would have to be done in a way that would overcome any action that he would take, but we still have time,” Gardner said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell weighed in on the Trump tariff plan, but was not as vocal as the above-mentioned Republican critics.
“I think the best way to characterize where most Republican senators are right now, including myself, is genuine concern that this not escalate into something much broader,”McConnell said.
President Trump has stated that he was not “backing down” on the proposed tariffs.
“We’re not backing down,” Trump said about the tariffs during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “I don’t think you’re going to have a trade war,” the president added.
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