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 McCarthyAnti-Trump Republicans target McCarthy, Scalise, other high-profile conservatives Congress may be right to cite Bannon for contempt — but Justice would be wrong to prosecute Juan Williams: Trump is killing American democracy MORE (R-Calif.) called on Senate Republicans to support President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by Boeing — Milley warns of 'Sputnik moment' for China WSJ publishes letter from Trump continuing to allege voter fraud in PA Oath Keeper who was at Capitol on Jan. 6 runs for New Jersey State Assembly 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 CruzFlake, Cindy McCain among latest Biden ambassadors confirmed after delay Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Colin Powell's death highlights risks for immunocompromised The Senate confirmation process is broken — Senate Democrats can fix it 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.