GOP senator rips Trump tariffs: Don't use 'real people' as collateral damage

GOP senator rips Trump tariffs: Don't use 'real people' as collateral damage
© Greg Nash

Sen. Pat RobertsCharles (Pat) Patrick RobertsPat Robertson asks followers to help cast 'shield of protection' ahead of hurricane Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke The farm bill gives Congress a chance to act on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act MORE (R-Kan.) ripped the Trump administration's trade dispute with China on Wednesday, saying farmers and ranchers should not be collateral damage.

“These are real people, real families. You don’t use them as a playing card,” Roberts, who serves as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, told The Kansas City Star. “I think that’s the most upsetting thing that has happened.”

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The Trump administration finds itself in a trade dispute with Beijing after the White House on Tuesday detailed a $50 billion tariff package on China, with 25 percent tariffs being leveled on imports of Chinese electronics, shoes, furniture and other goods.

Beijing retaliated on Wednesday, slapping 25 percent tariffs on imports of U.S. soybeans, corn, airplanes and automobiles in a package that totals about $50 billion worth of goods.

Commodity futures in the stock market plummeted in response to the tariffs. 

“It’s very disconcerting,” Roberts told the publication. “We do have a little time to round up the farm posse and get our message across."

Roberts is not the only Republican to express concern and criticism over the tariffs. 

Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyWife of 'Glow' director writes 'Stop Kavanaugh' on her arm for Emmy Awards Grassley agrees to second Kavanaugh hearing after GOP members revolt Murkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify MORE (R-Iowa) said on Wednesday that agriculture industry workers should not have to bear the brunt of China's retaliation against U.S. tariffs. 

“The United States should take action to defend its interests when any foreign nation isn’t playing by the rules or refuses to police itself. But farmers and ranchers shouldn’t be expected to bear the brunt of retaliation for the entire country," Grassley said in a statement.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said President TrumpDonald John TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE on Tuesday reassured him that farmers would not be hurt by an ongoing trade dispute with China.

"If these tariffs actually come into play, it's going concerning to our farmers. But I talked to the president as recently as last night. And he said, 'Sonny, you can assure your farmers out there that we're not going to allow them to be the casualties if this trade dispute escalates. We're going to take care of our American farmers. You can tell them that directly,'" the secretary said. 

Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to assert that the U.S. is "not in a trade war with China."