McConnell: We may 'be in the early stages' of a trade war

McConnell: We may 'be in the early stages' of a trade war
© Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump vows to campaign against Murkowski after senator's criticism Senate advances conservation fund bill, House introduces companion Paul clashes with Booker, Harris over anti-lynching bill MORE (R-Ky.) said on Friday that the country might be in the beginning of a trade war and urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal plan to contain Washington protests employs 7,600 personnel: report GOP Rep calls on primary opponent to condemn campaign surrogate's racist video Tennessee court rules all registered voters can obtain mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 MORE to reverse course on his recent tariffs. 

"As you all know, I've said before, I'm concerned about getting into a trade war and it seems like ... we may actually be in the early stages of it. Nobody wins a trade war, and so it would be good if it ended soon," McConnell said during a press conference in Kentucky on Friday. 

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Asked about the impacts on his own state, McConnell noted that reciprocal tariffs from U.S. trade partners are targeting both bourbon and the production of Toyota vehicles. 

"Yeah, as I've said repeatedly in the last few weeks as this has unfolded, this would not be good for the commonwealth," the Senate GOP leader told reporters. 

Trump's use of the national security provisions of trade law, which allows him to impose tariffs without congressional approval, have rankled congressional Republicans who worry he will roil the economy months before the midterm election.

Trump has imposed steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, including targeting key trading allies such as the European Union, Canada and Mexico. 

The Senate took a symbolic shot at Trump's tariffs this week voting 88-11 to instruct lawmakers hashing out a deal on a government funding bill to include language “providing a role for Congress” on tariffs implemented for national security reasons, known as Section 232 of the trade laws.

The vote is nonbinding, meaning lawmakers don’t have to add trade language into the funding bill. But the vote margin, with more senators supporting it than needed to override a veto, underscores the depth of concern on Capitol Hill.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump asserts his power over Republicans Romney is only GOP senator not on new White House coronavirus task force McConnell, Romney vie for influence over Trump's trial MORE (R-Tenn.) has introduced separate legislation that would require congressional approval if Trump wanted to implement tariffs for reasons of national security. Corker tried to attach the legislation to a defense bill and farm legislation but was blocked both times.