GOP leaders signal they will try to narrow Trump's tariffs

GOP leaders signal they will try to narrow Trump's tariffs
© Getty

Congressional GOP leaders have signaled they want to narrow the administration's steel and aluminum tariffs before they are implemented, the same day President TrumpDonald John TrumpBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' ACLU says planned national emergency declaration is 'clear abuse of presidential power' O'Rourke says he'd 'absolutely' take down border wall near El Paso if he could MORE pushed forward with the measures despite widespread GOP backlash.

Both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBill Kristol resurfaces video of Pence calling Obama executive action on immigration a 'profound mistake' Winners and losers in the border security deal House passes border deal, setting up Trump to declare emergency MORE (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRubio discovers Native American heritage through TV show Feminine hygiene products to be available to House lawmakers using congressional funds Former Ryan aide moves to K street MORE (R-Wis.) hinted Thursday that they will try to limit Trump's decision to levy a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Lawmakers have a finite amount of time to try to soften the tariffs. Trump noted during the White House event that they will take effect within 15 days.

McConnell said he and other senators are "concerned about the scope of the proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum."

"Important questions remain about whether ultimately these tariffs will be sufficiently targeted, tailored and limited. I look forward to working with the administration to make sure that our trade policy focuses on curbing abusive behavior and protecting our interests here at home without harming America’s economic security," he said in a statement. 

Ryan added in a separate statement that he is worried Trump's decision will have "unintended consequences."

"We will continue to urge the administration to narrow this policy so that it is focused only on those countries and practices that violate trade law," Ryan said.

He added that a "better approach" would be "targeted enforcement" against China and other nations.

Republicans worked for days both behind the scenes and with public pleas to try to get Trump to back down, or significantly curtail, his threat of tariffs.

Ryan urged Trump to be more "surgical," while McConnell noted on Tuesday that the North American Free Trade Agreement had been a "winner" for his state.

Both McConnell's and Ryan's home states face potential retaliatory penalties. The European Union, for example, has threatened tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorcycles (the company is based in Wisconsin) and bourbon, for which Kentucky is famous.

Trump said on Thursday that Canada and Mexico would be exempted from the tariffs as they try to negotiate a larger trade agreement.

McConnell and Ryan noted that Trump had given a loophole to some allies, but indicated they are concerned they don't go far enough.

"I am pleased that the president has listened to those who share my concerns and included an exemption for some American allies, but it should go further," Ryan said.