Ryan presses Trump to pull back on tariffs

Ryan presses Trump to pull back on tariffs
© Getty Images - Camille Fine

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanWary GOP eyes Meadows shift from brick-thrower to dealmaker Budowsky: Why I back Kennedy, praise Markey Democratic super PAC quotes Reagan in anti-Trump ad set to air on Fox News: 'Are you better off?' MORE (R-Wis.) is calling on President TrumpDonald John TrumpDeWine tests negative for coronavirus a second time Several GOP lawmakers express concern over Trump executive orders Beirut aftermath poses test for US aid to frustrating ally MORE to reconsider his decision to levy steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, making a rare break with the GOP president.

Ryan’s office said that the Speaker has shared his concerns personally with the president “on multiple occasions,” including last week.

“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” AshLee Strong, Ryan’s spokeswoman, said in a statement on Monday. “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don't want to jeopardize those gains.”


The Speaker’s office also blasted out an email earlier Monday highlighting a news article that attributed a drop in the stock markets to Trump’s tariffs announcement. 

The rare public pushback from Ryan comes as the White House is facing increasing pressure from GOP lawmakers, outside conservative groups and members of the business community to abandon or scale back the contentious tariff proposal, which has not yet been finalized.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyOn The Money: Five takeaways from the July jobs report Stimulus checks debate now focuses on size, eligibility Pelosi huddles with chairmen on surprise billing but deal elusive MORE (R-Texas) and Rep. Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertWashington Rep. Kim Schrier wins primary Mail ballot surge places Postal Service under spotlight Bottom Line MORE (R-Wash.), chairman of the subcommittee on trade, have drafted a letter to the White House expressing their concerns with the steep tariffs. They are in the process of collecting more signatures, according to a committee aide.

Republicans’ pitch to Trump has largely focused on highlighting their economic concerns, saying the proposed tariffs could send the stock market plunging and erase economic gains from the tax law — two successes that Trump has taken credit for and that GOP lawmakers plan to tout in the upcoming midterm elections.

“The administration and Congress must work together on trade policies that build off the momentum of the president’s tax cuts, which is why any tariffs should be narrow, targeted, and focused on addressing unfairly traded products, without disrupting the flow of fairly traded products for American businesses and consumers,” said a spokeswoman for the Ways and Means Committee.


Congressional leaders are not ruling out taking action to intervene further down the line if the plan moves forward, according to one GOP source.

Trump on Monday signaled he has no intention of changing course despite the pressure from his party.

"No, we're not backing down," Trump told reporters at the White House, adding that the U.S. has been "ripped off" by foreign countries. 

Asked if the move could trigger a global trade war, Trump responded, “I don’t think you’re going to have a trade war.”

Trump said last week that he intends to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports without any exceptions, sparking threats of retaliation from Europe and Canada.  

The conservative Club for Growth separately blasted out an email criticizing the proposal on Monday, saying the import taxes would harm American consumers. 

“The idea of imposing steel or aluminum tariffs of any kind is an affront to economic freedom,” said David McIntosh, group's president.

Trump on Monday dangled the idea of lifting the tariffs if Canada and Mexico cooperate on revising the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — a deal the two countries and the U.S. were renegotiating last week in Mexico City.

"Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum will only come off if new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed," Trump tweeted Monday, adding, "Mexico must do much more on stopping drugs from pouring into the U.S. They have not done what needs to be done."