McConnell hits at Trump’s tariffs

- Maret 06, 2018

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday took aim at President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, marking his first public comments on Trump’s polarizing proposal.

“There is a lot of concern among Republican senators that this could sort of metastasize into a larger trade war, and many of our members are discussing with the administration just how broad, how sweeping this might be,” the Kentucky Republican told reporters. “And there’s a high level of concern about interfering with what appears to be an economy that's taking off in every respect.”

The president shocked Republicans on the Hill last week when he announced that he would impose tariffs on steel and aluminum. Other nations have threatened to retaliate, and congressional Republicans have warned the president against taking such action. Speaker Paul Ryan had previously expressed concern with new tariffs.

Despite pressure from inside Congress as well as within the White House, the president has insisted that he won't back down. He has signaled some willingness to exempt Canada and Mexico from tariffs if the trio of nations can successfully renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, though that will be difficult.


“From a Kentucky point of view, NAFTA’s been a big winner,” McConnell said. “We’ve benefited from it in every way, and so 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.”

Asked if the president’s controversial decision to slap tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports could muddle Republicans’ midterm campaign message as they continue to sell their tax-cuts bill, McConnell urged patience.

“I think we need to wait and see what the White House finally decides to do on this,” he said.


 

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