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

The Washington Post  The Washington Post

"I think we're going completely the wrong direction", Flake said. However, this is a very complicated area we are talking tough about, negotiating in public, and if followed by real negotiating, could result in changes in terms that might eliminate the need for tariffs. Without coming out in favor or against the tariffs, Baldwin said the decision "sends a strong message to bad actors like China" but also called for Trump to exempt European trading partners and do more to "target China's cheating". Trade wars are not won, they are only lost. At least two Senate committees are planning hearings on Trump's action, and Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona said he's planning legislation that would nullify the tariffs. Senate Republicans were by-and-large unified in their opposition to the new 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports that Trump announced last Thursday. He is in frequent contact with Trump's top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer.

According to Section 232 of a US trade law, the president can impose tariffs on imported materials for national security purposes. And Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) lamented how the White House doesn't understand today's global economy. I am pleased that the president has listened to those who share my concerns and included an exemption for some American allies, but it should go further.

His colleague Mike Lee, of the ultra-conservative Tea Party, immediately claimed congressional powers as defined in the Constitution's first article - which says the power to tax belongs to the legislature - promising "to make sure these tax hikes are never enforced".

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Congress has the authority to act on trade issues, but the pendulum has swung in recent years, through court cases and by Congress delegating its authority to the executive branch. But there are few signs on Capitol Hill of the political will to pass a bill to rein in Trump and avert a trade war. And while the Democratic base demands party lawmakers defy Trump at every turn, Brown sees his stance on trade as central to his own identity.

"We are extremely anxious about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan", House Speaker Paul D. Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said last week.

In a statement, the senator from MA explained that she believed the tariffs "take the right approach" but should focus on "countries like China that cheat constantly on foreign trade", rather than hitting all USA trade partners.

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