Flake to introduce bill to nullify Trump's tariffs

Flake to introduce bill to nullify Trump's tariffs
© Greg Nash - Getty Images

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakePoll: McSally holds 14-point lead in Arizona GOP Senate primary GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border McCain, Coons: Trump should withdraw controversial refugee nominee MORE (R-Ariz.) said on Thursday that he will introduce legislation to nix President TrumpDonald John TrumpConservatives express concern over House GOP immigration bill Poll: McSally holds 14-point lead in Arizona GOP Senate primary Trump defends Nielsen amid criticism over family separations MORE's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports just minutes after they were announced.

"I will immediately draft and introduce legislation to nullify these tariffs, and I urge my colleagues to pass it before this exercise in protectionism inflicts any more damage on the economy," Flake said in a statement.

Trump announced that he would levy the penalties — a 25 percent tariff for steel and 10 percent on aluminum — during a White House event. Canada and Mexico are exempted amid larger trade negotiations, Trump said. 

But the decision is expected to spark widespread backlash from Capitol Hill. 

ADVERTISEMENT
 

Republicans worked frantically, without success, for days to publicly and privately urge the administration to back down or at least narrow the tariffs. 

“These so-called ‘flexible tariffs’ are a marriage of two lethal poisons to economic growth — protectionism and uncertainty. Trade wars are not won, they are only lost. Congress cannot be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster," Flake added on Thursday.

But GOP senators acknowledged in the hours ahead of Trump's announcement that they were largely in the dark about what the president was planning.

"My staff may have gotten a heads up, but I have been distracted by other things. So, I have not gotten a briefing. So, I don't know what he's going to do," Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis Dem plays audio from child detention center on Senate floor MORE (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said earlier Thursday.

But what, if anything, Congress will be willing to do remains unclear.

Several Republican senators indicated earlier this week that they were willing to move forward with legislation to counter the president if he pressed forward with the financial penalties. 

But any legislation to limit Trump would likely be opposed by the president, meaning supporters would need two-thirds in both chambers — enough to override a veto.

 
"I will work with my colleagues to use Congress's Article 1 power to make sure these tax hikes are never enforced," he said. 
 
Lee introduced separate legislation last year that would give Congress oversight of any trade policy, including implementing tariffs. A spokesman for Lee told The Hill earlier this week that the Utah Republican “has talked with many of his colleagues about the bill" since the administration floated the tariffs.
 
Updated: 6:14 p.m.