McCarthy: Republicans need to back Trump on Mexico tariffs

McCarthy: Republicans need to back Trump on Mexico tariffs
© Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyCalifornia sues Trump administration over fracking Trump: Impeachment timing intended to hurt Sanders Overnight Energy: Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate impact | Republicans offer details on their environmental proposals | Microsoft aims to be carbon negative by 2030 MORE (R-Calif.) called on Senate Republicans to support President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE’s plan to impose tariffs on Mexican exports unless that country does more to try to force action to curb illegal border crossings.

“End of the day we should support the president so we can get an agreement so we don’t have tariffs. Them talking about not supporting him undercuts his ability to do that,” McCarthy, who has emerged as a staunch ally of the White House on Capitol Hill, told reporters Wednesday.

"What I think, is we should we should empower the president to be able to have a strong hand in negotiations," he added. "You don't hear anybody in Mexico, undercutting there at the same time.  We should be united so there won't be tariffs and have a strong hand in that negotiation."

Trump announced last week that he would impose a 5 percent tariff on Mexico unless it stepped up its efforts to prevent migrants from illegally entering the U.S. and that the levies could steadily rise to 25 percent if he was dissatisfied with Mexico City’s actions. He said Tuesday the penalties would be imposed next week. 

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The plan has roiled Senate Republicans, who have long placed a premium on free trade, particularly with America’s neighbors.

McCarthy’s comments come after a closed-door meeting Tuesday in which Senate Republicans sought to dissuade White House officials from enacting the tariffs.  

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Cruz: Hearing from witnesses could extend Senate trial to up to 8 weeks Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers gear up for Senate impeachment trial MORE (R-Texas), who attended the meeting, told reporters “there was deep concern expressed in the lunch about the prospects of tariffs with Mexico.” 

“I think it's fair to say ... that every senator who spoke, and there were probably a half-dozen, generally had the same point of view. Nobody was supportive, who spoke,” added a second GOP lawmaker. 

Updated at 1:18 p.m.