Defying GOP, Trump to impose steep tariffs on steel, aluminum next week

President TrumpDonald John TrumpScarborough mocks 'Deflection Don' over transgender troop ban Pelosi condemns Trump's 'cowardly, disgusting' ban on transgender troops Trump moves to ban most transgender people from serving in military MORE said Thursday that he will impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from around the world next week, defying Republican lawmakers who have pushed back against the move.

Trump said he will announce tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum from all countries that send their metals to the United States, a decision sure to lead to retaliation by key trading partners.

“We'll be signing it next week. And you'll have protection for a long time in a while,” Trump said, casting the effort as a way to protect U.S. producers during a meeting with 15 steel and aluminum industry executives. 


“You'll have to regrow your industries, that's all I'm asking,” he said. 

Trump’s announcement was met with a strong backlash from Republicans, who issued a steady stream of statements criticizing his decision.

Wall Street also reactive negatively. The Dow Jones industrial average initially dropped more than 500 points before it began to win back some of the losses later in the afternoon.

“Tariffs on steel and aluminum are a tax hike the American people don’t need and can’t afford,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchMichael Steele: Congress must lead on cannabis reform and stand with the American public Overnight Cybersecurity: House Intel votes to release Russia report | House lawmakers demand Zuckerberg testify | Senators unveil updated election cyber bill Omnibus includes search-and-seize provision MORE (R-Utah) said in a statement.

Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsGOP pushes to change Senate rules for Trump Rural America hopes Trump hasn't forgotten his promise Republicans slam Trump's tariffs plan MORE (R-Kan.) called the plan “terribly counterproductive” and warned of retaliation that would likely target U.S. agricultural exports.

China has already threatened to block imports of U.S. soybeans in response to the tariffs. Beijing's top trade official Lui He is in Washington this week for trade talks.

The European Union has also said it would consider retaliatory action.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump’s decision as protecting U.S. workers, but hedged a bit on whether Trump would stick to a 25 percent tariff.

“I think that’s the intent,” she said.

Steel industry representatives offered immediate support for the decision.

U.S. Steel Corp. chief Dave Burritt said U.S. companies just “want a level playing field,” and defended the global tariffs as a way to prevent foreign competitors from shifting production from country to country to avoid U.S. penalties.  

He called it “the whack-a-mole game.”

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul, who has urged the White House to impose the tariffs, said “we're on the brink of a potentially historic rebalance of America's trade priorities.” 

“A decision to restore sanity to global steel markets will help create domestic jobs and preserve our national security,” Paul said.

Democratic lawmakers such as Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocratic senator: People don’t know what’s going on between Trump and Putin Power struggle threatens to sink bank legislation Pension committee must deliver on retirement promise MORE of Ohio also praised the move.

“I want the president to move,” he said. 

“They’ve been talking about this and walked up to the edge for 10-and-a-half months now, causing more steel job losses, causing more U.S. companies hardship, lost revenues, lower sales, and look where we are,” he said. 

Other Democrats expressed concern. Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemocrats desperate for a win hail spending bill Koch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp GOP Senate candidate slams McCaskill over Clinton ties MORE (D-Mo.) warned of negative consequences and questioned whether the administration has thought out the policy.

Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseGOP senator tears into Trump for congratulating Putin The Hill's 12:30 Report Overnight Defense: Trump unveils new sanctions against Russia | Key Republicans back VA chief amid controversy | Trump gives boost to military 'space force' MORE (R-Neb.) had one of the more forceful responses: “Let's be clear: The president is proposing a massive tax increase on American families,” he said. 

“Protectionism is weak, not strong. You'd expect a policy this bad from a leftist administration, not a supposedly Republican one.”

In response, Sanders said that Trump would not “apologize for protecting American workers, especially not to Sen. Sasse.” 

The Trump administration has framed its decision around China, though it accounts for only about 2 percent of all imported steel into the United States.

The United States already has more than 160 countervailing and antidumping duties on steel imports — some as high as 266 percent — against 37 countries and 25 categories of basic steel products. There are 28 tariffs against China along with several pending investigations, which some groups say is enough to support the U.S. industry.

The decision, which could ensnare Mexico and Canada, comes amid the seventh round of North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations in Mexico City this week. 

Industries that use steel and aluminum expressed deep concern about the move. 

“These proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports couldn't come at a worse time,” said Cody Lusk, president of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.

“The burden of these tariffs, as always, will be passed on to the American consumer,” Lusk said.

Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade, said the “announcement invites retaliation that we are deeply concerned will hurt American farmers.” 

“These tariffs are very likely to accelerate a tit-for-tat approach on trade, putting U.S. agricultural exports in the cross-hairs.” 

Roy Hardy, president of the Precision Metalforming Association and Dave Tilstone, president of the National Tooling and Machining Association, said the steep tariffs “imperils the U.S. manufacturing sector, and particularly downstream U.S. steel and aluminum consuming companies, who alone employ 6.5 million Americans compared to the 80,000 employed by the domestic steel industry.” 

“The tariffs will lead to the U.S. once again becoming an island of high steel prices resulting in our customers simply importing the finished part,” Hardy and Tilstone said.  

Alex Bolton, Niv Elis and Jordan Fabian contributed