Chuck Grassley condemns Trump’s proposed Mexico tariff: ‘Trade policy and border security separate issues’

(File Photo: screenshot)

Sen. Chuck Grassley wasted no time letting President Donald Trump know his newly announced tariffs on Mexico are a “misuse” of his authority.

The Iowa Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee called out the president in a strongly worded statement Thursday following Trump’s announcement.

(Photo: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The president declared in tweets on Thursday that beginning June 10, the U.S. will impose a 5 percent tariff on all Mexican imports “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our Country, STOP.”

In a follow-up statement from the White House, Trump added that the tariff will increase by 5 percent each month “unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory.”

But Grassley soon came out with his own statement condemning the move and warning the president that it could backfire against him and potentially derail the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“Trade policy and border security are separate issues. This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent,” Grassley said. “Following through on this threat would seriously jeopardize passage USMCA, a central campaign pledge of President Trump’s and what could be a big victory for the country.”

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, disputed that assertion.

“The two are absolutely not linked,” he told reporters, according to NBC News. “These are not tariffs as part of a trade dispute. These are tariffs as part of an immigration problem.”

“Illegal immigration comes at a cost,” he added. “The American taxpayer is paying for what’s going on at the border.”

But Grassley made it clear he did not support Trump’s plan.

“I support nearly every one of President Trump’s immigration policies, but this is not one of them. I urge the president to consider other options,” he stated.

He urged “alternatives” that Trump should consider, including “imposing a fee on the billions of dollars of remittances that annually leave the United States to Mexico,” something he noted just encourages more illegal immigration has a negative impact on the U.S. economy.

That proposal, Grassley contended, could “fund border security measures and would put economic pressure on Mexico without imposing a financial burden on U.S. consumers or harming American jobs.”

“I’ve long supported reforms to remittance law, which haven’t become law because of opposition from big banks and other financial interests. Mexico must help get the border crisis under control and the president should use appropriate authorities to apply pressure,” Grassley continued, adding that he called for a “Safe Third Country Agreement so that Mexico cannot simply pass the buck to the United States.”

The senator called on Mexico to step up to a leadership role amid the flow of asylum-seeking migrants who “are traversing their country without regard to the law and without consequence.” No sooner had Trump made his announcement than Mexico’s President Lopez Obrador was requesting a meeting with the Mexican foreign minister in Washington on Friday to come up with a solution.

Grassley concluded his statement by calling on Congress to “immediately fully fund border security” while also admonishing Democrats to “come to the table” and work at ending the border crisis.

Other Republicans were also not on board with Trump’s threatened new tariffs, including  Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa who said it “isn’t the right path forward.”

“We are going to judge success here by the number of people crossing the border, and that number needs to start coming down immediately in a significant and substantial number,” Mulvaney said of the plan, noting that there wasn’t a specific target Mexico was required to meet.

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