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GOP Lawmakers Voice Little Support For Trump's Tariffs
11 March 2018, 12:55 | Bernice Figueroa
Trump's party desperately tries to talk him off trade war ledge
Outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake is among more than a 100 Republican members of Congress who unsuccessfully urged President Trump to reconsider the broad levies on steel and aluminum imports.
House Speaker Paul Ryan released a statement following the tariff announcement that included no mention of any legislative effort or remedy. The president said USA political leaders preceding him had allowed the decline of manufacturing in the nation, and cited a protectionist predecessor, President William McKinley, in defense of the tariffs.
As the president dug in on his position, any potential compromise with foreign trading partners and Republican lawmakers was expected to still include some form of tariffs.
However, he did applaud the president for recognizing that foreign trade abusers need to be held accountable. "We're going to continue to have one, but that doesn't mean we have to agree on everything".
The president announced a 10 percent tax on imported aluminum and a 25 percent tax on imported steel, carving out exceptions for imports from Canada and Mexico.
The people briefed on the plans said all countries affected by the tariffs would be invited to negotiate with the Trump administration to be exempted from the tariffs if they can address the threat their exports pose to USA manufacturers.
The White House said Wednesday that Mexico, Canada and other countries may be spared from tariffs under national security "carve-outs".
"I'll have a right to go up or down depending on the country", he said.
The tariff proclamation excludes Canada and Mexico and leaves the door open to sparing other countries on the basis of national security.
Countries could challenge Trump's action in the World Trade Organization, putting this worldwide forum in the uncomfortable position of determining what is in the "essential security interests" of the US, in accordance with an existing agreement on tariffs and trade.
Even if there is an initial victory from a friendly court to stay Trump's tariffs, a case would face hard appeals, according to Mark Warner, a Toronto-based trade lawyer with MAAW Law who practices in the USA and Canada.
But the president says, "We're going to be very flexible". Indeed, he said, Canada is probably already drawing up lists of US products to tax in retaliation. The people spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the president's signing of the orders. And like the president, Republicans are making political calculations in doing so. In public and in private, Trump still speaks frequently of his victories 16 months ago in Democratic-leaning states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and MI, where working-class white voters helped propel him to victory.
"I'm disappointed because we just passed a tax bill and this kind of flies in the face of that".
Trump threatened to tax European cars if the EU boosts tariffs on American products in response to his plan.
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