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 McCarthyGOP rep: Trump needs to retaliate against Iran to deter other hostile nations Ocasio-Cortez: McCarthy should apologize to migrant children separated from their parents Lawmakers warn of 'grave situation' after drone shot down MORE (R-Calif.) called on Senate Republicans to support President TrumpDonald John TrumpFormer Joint Chiefs chairman: 'The last thing in the world we need right now is a war with Iran' Pence: 'We're not convinced' downing of drone was 'authorized at the highest levels' Trump: Bolton would take on the whole world at one time 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 Cruz Hickenlooper, Bennet bring deep ties to 2020 debate stage 2020 Democrat Bennet releases comprehensive government reform plan GOP frets about Trump's poll numbers 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.