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

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

Congressional GOP leaders have signaled they want to narrow the administration's steel and aluminum tariffs before they are implemented, the same day President TrumpDonald John TrumpDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Pawlenty loses comeback bid in Minnesota Establishment-backed Vukmir wins Wisconsin GOP Senate primary MORE pushed forward with the measures despite widespread GOP backlash.

Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellHill.TV poll: Majority of Republicans say Trump best represents the values of the GOP The Hill's 12:30 Report Republican strategist: Trump is 'driven by ego' MORE (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDems make history, and other takeaways from Tuesday's primaries Ironworker and star of viral video wins Dem primary for Speaker Ryan's seat Live results: Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, Connecticut hold primaries MORE (R-Wis.) hinted Thursday that they will try to limit Trump's decision to levy a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Lawmakers have a finite amount of time to try to soften the tariffs. Trump noted during the White House event that they will take effect within 15 days.

McConnell said he and other senators are "concerned about the scope of the proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum."

"Important questions remain about whether ultimately these tariffs will be sufficiently targeted, tailored and limited. I look forward to working with the administration to make sure that our trade policy focuses on curbing abusive behavior and protecting our interests here at home without harming America’s economic security," he said in a statement. 

Ryan added in a separate statement that he is worried Trump's decision will have "unintended consequences."

"We will continue to urge the administration to narrow this policy so that it is focused only on those countries and practices that violate trade law," Ryan said.

He added that a "better approach" would be "targeted enforcement" against China and other nations.

Republicans worked for days both behind the scenes and with public pleas to try to get Trump to back down, or significantly curtail, his threat of tariffs.

Ryan urged Trump to be more "surgical," while McConnell noted on Tuesday that the North American Free Trade Agreement had been a "winner" for his state.

Both McConnell's and Ryan's home states face potential retaliatory penalties. The European Union, for example, has threatened tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles (the company is based in Wisconsin) and bourbon, for which Kentucky is famous.

Trump said on Thursday that Canada and Mexico would be exempted from the tariffs as they try to negotiate a larger trade agreement.

McConnell and Ryan noted that Trump had given a loophole to some allies, but indicated they are concerned they don't go far enough.

"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," Ryan said.