Congressional Republicans are frantically lobbying President Donald Trump to reconsider his move to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum — even considering legislative action to try to stop him if he refuses.
Speaker Paul Ryan has personally spoken with the president and tried to warn him of the economic dangers of entering a trade war as well as the political backlash that could crush Republicans in the mid-terms elections. Republicans fear that voters could pay the price in the form of higher prices, completely undercutting their central campaign message of an improving economy.
“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” said Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong. “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”
One of the top authors of the tax package, Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), has also waded in to try to talk Trump down. Brady and trade subcommittee chairman Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) have drafted a letter to Trump expressing worry about “the prospect of broad, global tariffs on aluminum and steel imports,” said Lauren Aronson, a Ways and Means spokeswoman.
“As the two Chairmen have reinforced, the administration and Congress must work together on trade policies that build off the momentum of the President’s tax cuts, which is why any tariffs should be narrow, targeted, and focused on addressing unfairly traded products, without disrupting the flow of fairly traded products for American businesses and consumers,” Aronson said in a statement, adding that Brady is committed to working closely with the administration.
The move comes as the White House prepares to slap a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum as soon as this week. A Saturday tweet by Trump suggested that he might even go beyond that and impose tariffs on European cars.
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