Republicans offer downbeat view on blocking Trump's Mexico tariffs

Senate Republicans say a possible resolution to block President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP senators balk at lengthy impeachment trial Warren goes local in race to build 2020 movement 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes MORE’s threat to impose new tariffs on Mexico will begin in the House and may not even make it to the Senate floor.

The senators offered a downbeat view on the resolution's future, despite angst among Republicans over Trump's tariffs.

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“I was in a meeting yesterday where there were two different opinions about whether a resolution of disapproval would be applicable in this instance,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySpeaker Pelosi, it's time to throw American innovators a lifeline Barr: Inspector general's report on alleged FISA abuses 'imminent' Pelosi aide hopeful White House will support drug-pricing bill despite criticism MORE (R-Iowa) said Tuesday.

“Right now, I don’t think it’s even worth talking about because the Mexicans are coming up here tomorrow to talk to the administration, and I hope that something can be worked out,” he added.

Members of the Mexican delegation have voiced optimism that their talks could lead to a deal that would prevent the tariffs from being imposed as scheduled on Monday. 

But Trump, speaking at a press conference in London, vowed on Thursday that the tariffs would go into place unless Mexico cracks down on the flow of migrants from Central America across the southern border.

He also said it would be "foolish" for Republicans to try to stop him.

“We are going to see if we can do something, but think it’s more likely that the tariffs go on,” Trump said during a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa MayTheresa Mary MayThe US needs a Secretary of Loneliness EU pushes Brexit deadline back to Jan. 31 Hold the Brexit Champagne MORE.

The president has threatened to steadily raise the tariff to 25 percent by October unless the Mexican government takes action.

Two other Senate Republicans, briefed on the option of using a disapproval resolution to block new tariffs against Mexico, said it would begin in the House but cautioned there’s no guarantee it would reach a vote on the Senate floor.

One lawmaker said “it would be up to the parliamentarian” to decide whether Trump’s latest tariff threats against Mexico are covered by the national emergency declaration he made for the southern border in mid-February.

The lawmaker said the push for a disapproval resolution has more support from House Democrats than Senate Republicans.

Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate GOP waves Trump off early motion to dismiss impeachment charges Trump encounters GOP resistance to investigating Hunter Biden Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump MORE (R-S.D.) said he hopes the new talks between Mexico and the U.S. could lead to a deal that would prevent the tariffs from going forward.

“A lot of our members are hoping that these meetings tomorrow will lead to an outcome that doesn’t require them to execute on the tariffs. I’m hoping that they’ll have a constructive meeting,” he said. “Mexico has been, in my view, pretty measured and reserved so far in the things that they’ve said.”

Trump says he would impose the tariffs on Mexico under the 1977 International Emergency Economic Powers Act.

Critics of the move question whether the action would need to be justified by a new national emergency declaration or whether the declaration from February is enough.

In February, Trump declared an emergency at the border in order to move funds from Defense Department accounts for his proposed wall on the Mexican border.

The House and Senate voted to overturn that declaration. Twelve Senate Republicans were among those voting with Democrats.

Trump, however, vetoed the resolution and an effort to override it fell well short of the two-thirds majority needed in the House.

Under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, Congress can block the president’s emergency powers by terminating the national emergency declaration with a joint resolution passed by both chambers.

Thune on Tuesday said it’s unclear if Trump’s emergency declaration from February is enough to justify additional tariffs.

“We don’t really know. We’ve got conflicting views about whether the previous [emergency declaration] covers this or whether this requires some sort of a new declaration and therefore subject to another vote,” he said. “We just don’t know the answers yet.”

Thune, however, warned that a second disapproval vote could get more than the 12 Senate Republicans who supported the last one in March. 

“I suspect if that vote were to ever occur, I think you’d have a lot more of our members that would be opposed to [the emergency declaration] than last time,” he said. “Hopefully it won’t get to that.”

A second Republican senator briefed on the disapproval resolution who requested anonymity said it remains to be seen whether Trump will submit a second national emergency declaration to Congress. 

The lawmaker said a second declaration may be necessary because the president did not signal his intent to levy tariffs on Mexican goods when he made his original declaration in February.

Under the 1976 National Emergencies Act, the Democratic-controlled House can advance a resolution disapproving of Trump’s emergency declaration every six months. That means even if a second emergency declaration is not needed to impose new tariffs on Mexico, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOvernight Health Care: Trump officials making changes to drug pricing proposal | House panel advances flavored e-cig ban | Senators press FDA tobacco chief on vaping ban Speaker Pelosi, it's time to throw American innovators a lifeline Why Americans must tune in to the Trump impeachment hearings MORE (D-Calif.) could force another vote on the issue in the fall.