GOP senator rips Trump tariffs: Don't use 'real people' as collateral damage

GOP senator rips Trump tariffs: Don't use 'real people' as collateral damage
© Greg Nash

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsGOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Senate passes mammoth farm bill Moderates need to hold firm against radical right on Farm Bill MORE (R-Kan.) ripped the Trump administration's trade dispute with China on Wednesday, saying farmers and ranchers should not be collateral damage.

“These are real people, real families. You don’t use them as a playing card,” Roberts, who serves as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, told The Kansas City Star. “I think that’s the most upsetting thing that has happened.”

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The Trump administration finds itself in a trade dispute with Beijing after the White House on Tuesday detailed a $50 billion tariff package on China, with 25 percent tariffs being leveled on imports of Chinese electronics, shoes, furniture and other goods.

Beijing retaliated on Wednesday, slapping 25 percent tariffs on imports of U.S. soybeans, corn, airplanes and automobiles in a package that totals about $50 billion worth of goods.

Commodity futures in the stock market plummeted in response to the tariffs. 

“It’s very disconcerting,” Roberts told the publication. “We do have a little time to round up the farm posse and get our message across."

Roberts is not the only Republican to express concern and criticism over the tariffs. 

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenators push to clear backlog in testing rape kits Controversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting MORE (R-Iowa) said on Wednesday that agriculture industry workers should not have to bear the brunt of China's retaliation against U.S. tariffs. 

“The United States should take action to defend its interests when any foreign nation isn’t playing by the rules or refuses to police itself. But farmers and ranchers shouldn’t be expected to bear the brunt of retaliation for the entire country," Grassley said in a statement.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE on Tuesday reassured him that farmers would not be hurt by an ongoing trade dispute with China.

"If these tariffs actually come into play, it's going concerning to our farmers. But I talked to the president as recently as last night. And he said, 'Sonny, you can assure your farmers out there that we're not going to allow them to be the casualties if this trade dispute escalates. We're going to take care of our American farmers. You can tell them that directly,'" the secretary said. 

Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to assert that the U.S. is "not in a trade war with China."