Flake to introduce bill to nullify Trump’s tariffs
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said on Thursday that he will introduce legislation to nix President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports just minutes after they were announced.
“I will immediately draft and introduce legislation to nullify these tariffs, and I urge my colleagues to pass it before this exercise in protectionism inflicts any more damage on the economy,” Flake said in a statement.
Trump announced that he would levy the penalties — a 25 percent tariff for steel and 10 percent on aluminum — during a White House event. Canada and Mexico are exempted amid larger trade negotiations, Trump said.
But the decision is expected to spark widespread backlash from Capitol Hill.
Republicans worked frantically, without success, for days to publicly and privately urge the administration to back down or at least narrow the tariffs.
“These so-called ‘flexible tariffs’ are a marriage of two lethal poisons to economic growth — protectionism and uncertainty. Trade wars are not won, they are only lost. Congress cannot be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster,” Flake added on Thursday.
But GOP senators acknowledged in the hours ahead of Trump’s announcement that they were largely in the dark about what the president was planning.
“My staff may have gotten a heads up, but I have been distracted by other things. So, I have not gotten a briefing. So, I don’t know what he’s going to do,” Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said earlier Thursday.
But what, if anything, Congress will be willing to do remains unclear.
Several Republican senators indicated earlier this week that they were willing to move forward with legislation to counter the president if he pressed forward with the financial penalties.
But any legislation to limit Trump would likely be opposed by the president, meaning supporters would need two-thirds in both chambers — enough to override a veto.