McConnell: Trump should 'pull back from the brink' on tariffs 

McConnell: Trump should 'pull back from the brink' on tariffs 
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report Republican strategist: Trump is 'driven by ego' Senate GOP campaign arm asking Trump to endorse McSally in Arizona: report MORE (R-Ky.) is urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpAl Gore: Trump has had 'less of an impact on environment so far than I feared' Trump claims tapes of him saying the 'n-word' don't exist Trump wanted to require staffers to get permission before writing books: report MORE to "pull back from the brink" from an international fight over tariffs, warning they could start a "trade war."

"I don't think anything good will come out of a trade war, and I hope we pull back from the brink here," McConnell said at the Greater Louisville Inc.'s Congressional Summit in Kentucky on Friday, according to the local business journal.

"These tariffs will not be good for the economy, and I worry that it will slow, or impede significantly, the progress we're making economically," McConnell added.

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The Republican leader's comments are the latest sign of GOP backlash after the Trump administration announced Thursday that it would make good on a threat to slap steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Mexico and Canada, ending an exemption for the key trading allies.

McConnell has repeatedly warned the administration against such trade moves, particularly over concerns that steep tariffs could roil the economy and spark retaliation from other countries. 

"It won't surprise you to know that I'm among those not happy about the prospect of a trade war," the Senate GOP leader said Friday.

McConnell is one of several GOP lawmakers who have spoken out against Trump's tariff decision.

"I disagree with this decision," Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanVulnerable Republicans include several up-and-coming GOP leaders Trump ally suspends reelection campaign Congress should prohibit members from serving on company boards MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday

Meanwhile,  GOP Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SassePollster: Attitudes toward Trump's farm aid are 'highly wrapped up' in feelings toward president Poll: Majority of Americans support Trump's plan to offer aid to farmers hit by tariffs Hillicon Valley: 'QAnon' conspiracy theory jumps to primetime | Senate Intel broadens look into social media manipulation | Senate rejects push for more election security funds | Reddit reveals hack MORE (Neb.) has called the move "dumb"; Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTop Republicans concerned over impact of potential Trump drug rule The Hill's Morning Report — Trump to GOP: I will carry you Treasury releases proposed rules on major part of Trump tax law MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the tariffs are a "tax hike" and GOP Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerGOP leaders: No talk of inviting Russia delegation to Capitol Collins and Murkowski face recess pressure cooker on Supreme Court Tougher Russia sanctions face skepticism from Senate Republicans MORE (Tenn.) argued Trump was abusing his authority to impose tariffs tied to national security.

Republicans have also been up front about the fact that they are worried Trump's trade moves could roil the economy months before a midterm election, undoing what they view as a boost from last year's tax bill. 

GOP Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyOvernight Defense: Pick for South Korean envoy splits with Trump on nuclear threat | McCain blasts move to suspend Korean military exercises | White House defends Trump salute of North Korean general WH backpedals on Trump's 'due process' remark on guns Top GOP candidate drops out of Ohio Senate race MORE (Pa.) announced on Friday that he would support legislation by Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeEx-Virginia GOP Senate candidate shares offensive voicemail allegedly left by Charlottesville rally organizer Facebook cracks down on 3D guns Exclusive: Bannon blasts 'con artist' Kochs, 'lame duck' Ryan, 'diminished' Kelly MORE (R-Utah) that would boost congressional oversight on Trump's tariff decisions.

But McConnell on Friday downplayed the chances that Congress would ultimately pass a bill reining in Trump's trade powers. 

The Senate GOP leader said there was "not much" lawmakers could do, noting any legislation would have to be signed by the president or have enough support to overcome a veto.

“Under the trade law, the president has pretty much all the ability to do these things, so there’s not much we can do to impact it. It’s really an executive branch activity. ... It’s just that I think many of us feel that it shouldn’t be done," McConnell told Insider Louisville. 

—Updated at 5:31 p.m.