Anxious GOP seeks to delay Trump's Mexico tariffs

Senate Republicans say President TrumpDonald John TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE should postpone tariffs set to be imposed on Mexican exports Monday, and allow more time for negotiators to reach a deal.

The senators say further negotiations could help prevent an escalating trade fight they say would damage the U.S. economy.

“We have a lot of people who don’t want to see this go into effect next week,” said Senate Republican Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP rattled by Trump rally GOP wants commitment that Trump will sign budget deal Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator MORE (S.D.).

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Vice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Kim Kardashian West thanks Trump, Kushner for helping efforts to free A$AP Rocky from Swedish jail Trump directed officials to work to free rapper A$AP Rocky after arrest in Sweden: reports MORE met with a Mexican delegation on Wednesday for about 90 minutes but failed to reach a deal that involved curbing illegal immigration to the United States.

Trump said on Twitter the talks would resume Thursday, and vowed that if there were no deal, the tariffs would be imposed on schedule.

“Progress is being made, but not nearly enough!” wrote Trump, who then noted a report issued by his administration earlier Wednesday that said border arrests in May had hit a record 133,000.

The results appeared to have been released on Friday to put added pressure on Mexico.

Trump said talks would resume “with the understanding that, if no agreement is reached, Tariffs at the 5% level will begin on Monday, with monthly increases as per schedule. The higher the Tariffs go, the higher the number of companies that will move back to the USA!”

Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard offered a hopeful note while speaking to reporters after the talks ended.

“Both sides recognized that the current situation cannot be maintained as it is,” he said, referring to May’s record border crossings.

Trump is facing stiff opposition from Senate Republicans over the tariffs, though it is uncertain if the GOP will actually challenge him.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants History in the House: Congress weathers unprecedented week EU official in Canada says he feels 'at home' there because no one was shouting 'send him back' MORE (R-Calif.) offered support for Trump’s tariffs on Wednesday and warned Republicans against undercutting the administration’s ability to negotiate with Mexico.

Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDHS chief to Pelosi: Emergency border funding 'has already had an impact' The Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants Trump faces new hit on deficit MORE (D-Calif.) criticized Trump’s plan, saying he is treating a neighboring country like “an enemy.”

But she also suggested that even if the House and Senate passed a resolution disapproving of the tariffs, it was unlikely the House could override a presidential veto.

“The Republican leader said they’re going to stick with the president on this,” Pelosi said, referring to McCarthy. “I don’t know how many of his members go along with that. I think the Senate probably has the votes to override.”

Whether the Senate would want to go that far is unclear.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report: Trump walks back from 'send her back' chants GOP rattled by Trump rally Third Kentucky Democrat announces challenge to McConnell MORE (R-Ky.), who is up for reelection himself next year, has generally sought to avoid confrontations with Trump, and Republicans who stand against the president are likely to attract primary challengers.

Trump on Tuesday said it would be “foolish” for GOP lawmakers to try to stop the tariffs, and some Republican senators on Wednesday downplayed the possibility of overriding a presidential veto.

Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonMystery surrounds elusive sanctions on Russia Trump may intervene in Pentagon cloud-computing contract: report Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp MORE (R-Wis.), who warned administration officials Tuesday that the Senate would vote on a disapproval resolution, changed his tone on Wednesday.

He said he informed Mexican Ambassador Martha Bárcena Coqui earlier in the day that Republicans would not vote to block Trump’s tariffs.  

“I talked to the Mexican ambassador. I wanted to make sure that she realized that if the president decides to invoke tariffs, I don’t think there’s a possibility for a veto override,” Johnson told reporters after the call.

Thune said McConnell is “talking to the White House,” and Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP wants commitment that Trump will sign budget deal Hillicon Valley: Trump seeks review of Pentagon cloud-computing contract | FTC weighs updating kids' internet privacy rules | Schumer calls for FaceApp probe | Report says states need more money to secure elections Senators introduce legislation to boost cyber defense training in high school MORE (R-Texas), an adviser to McConnell, said he thinks the tariffs should be postponed. Cornyn said he’s hearing a lot of pushback from constituents in Texas who are worried about the economic impact.

“It would hurt the economy not just in Texas, but Mexico is one of our major export countries and it would hurt, I think, the entire U.S. economy,” he said.

Texas exported $109.7 billion in goods to Mexico in 2018, about 35 percent of the state’s total exports, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.

At a closed-door meeting on Tuesday, Republicans hammered administration officials, arguing the tariffs would boomerang on the United States. The tariffs, if they go into place on Monday, are set to rise by 5 percentage points each month before topping out at 25 percent in October. 

“There was a lot of interest yesterday in [there being] no precipitous actions on the tariffs,” said Senate Republican Policy Committee Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP wants commitment that Trump will sign budget deal Poll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Senate passes bill making hacking voting systems a federal crime MORE (R-Mo.), summarizing the discussion.  

Senate Republicans want a chance to meet with Trump after he returns from Europe on Friday to make their case on the need to delay tariffs.

“I think there’s going to be a group of senators who are going to see the president to express some concerns about what the impact would be on the USMCA, for example, and we’ll see what happens from there,” said Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsPoll: McConnell is most unpopular senator Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers struggle to understand Facebook's Libra project | EU hits Amazon with antitrust probe | New cybersecurity concerns over census | Robocall, election security bills head to House floor | Privacy questions over FaceApp Trump angry more Republicans haven't defended his tweets: report MORE (R-Maine), referring to the new trade deal that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement if it is ratified.

Trump has made passing legislation to implement the USMCA a top priority for 2019. The president and his senior economic adviser, Larry KudlowLawrence (Larry) Alan KudlowMORE, pressed Democratic leaders about ratifying the new deal when they met in late April to discuss a possible infrastructure package.

There was one notable sign that the pressure on the administration was having some effect.

Senior White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN on Wednesday that tariffs against Mexico “may not have to go into effect” if it can show progress in slowing the flow of migrants from Central America into the United States.

“We believe that these tariffs may not have to go into effect precisely because we have the Mexicans’ attention,” he said.

Rafael Bernal and Jordan Fabian contributed.