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 McConnellSenate passes 6B defense bill Poll: Kim Jong Un has higher approval among Republicans than Pelosi The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Outcry raises pressure on GOP for immigration fix MORE (R-Ky.) is urging President TrumpDonald John Trump20 weeks out from midterms, Dems and GOP brace for surprises Sessions responds to Nazi comparisons: 'They were keeping the Jews from leaving' Kim Jong Un to visit Beijing this week 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 RyanTrump digs in amid uproar on zero tolerance policy Mark Sanford’s troubles did not begin with Trump NY Post blasts Trump, GOP over separating families at border MORE (R-Wis.) said Thursday

Meanwhile,  GOP Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseSasse: Trump should end 'wicked' family separation policy Frequent Trump critic touts president: Trump's rhetoric on free trade at G-7 is 'tremendous news' Overnight Defense: Trump draws ire for wanting Russia back in G-7 | Movement on defense bills expected next week | Air Force grounds B-1 fleet over safety issue MORE (Neb.) has called the move "dumb"; Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLive coverage: FBI chief, Justice IG testify on critical report On The Money: Trump imposes B in tariffs on China | China blasts 'fickle' Trump, promises payback | Trump to name consumer bureau director next week Trump announces tariffs on billion in Chinese goods MORE (R-Utah), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the tariffs are a "tax hike" and GOP Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenate chaplain offers prayer 'as children are being separated from their parents' Senate passes 6B defense bill This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo 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 LeeTrump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril Senate passes 6B defense bill This week: House GOP caught in immigration limbo 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.