Top Republicans urge Trump to sharpen focus on steel, aluminum tariffs

Top Republicans urge Trump to sharpen focus on steel, aluminum tariffs
© Greg Nash

House Republicans are urging President TrumpDonald John TrumpHannity urges Trump not to fire 'anybody' after Rosenstein report Ben Carson appears to tie allegation against Kavanaugh to socialist plot Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate MORE to use tariffs to target specific trade problems that are weighing on the domestic steel and aluminum industries.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyHouse GOP bill a mixed bag for retirement savers China imposes new tariffs on billion of US goods: report Trump announces tariffs on 0B in Chinese goods MORE (Texas) and Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Chairman Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertElection Countdown: GOP worries House majority endangered by top of ticket | Dems make history in Tuesday's primaries | Parties fight for Puerto Rican vote in Florida | GOP lawmakers plan 'Freedom Tour' Democrat Kim Schrier advances in Washington primary Overnight Energy: Koch backs bill opposing carbon taxes | Lawmakers look to Interior budget to block offshore drilling | EPA defends FOIA process MORE (Wash.) argue that slapping sweeping tariffs on all imported steel and aluminum would undermine the potential economic gains generated by the tax-cuts law.

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"Because tariffs are taxes that make U.S. businesses less competitive and U.S. consumers poorer, any tariffs that are imposed should be designed to address specific distortions caused by unfair trade practices in a targeted way while minimizing negative consequences on American businesses and consumers,” they wrote in a letter to Trump obtained by The Hill.

Congressional Republicans have been ramping up pressure on the White House to rethink its approach to the tariffs. 

The lawmakers, who are seeking Republicans to sign onto the letter, outlined four ways that Trump could tailor the tariffs to sidestep broader harm to the overall economy.

A final plan should exclude all fairly traded products as well as products that aren’t a threat to national security, the lawmakers wrote. 

The lawmakers are pushing for a "robust exclusion process" that allows U.S. companies to receive duty-free access for imports that are unavailable from U.S. sources.

The administration should also allow existing contracts for purchases of aluminum or steel to go through duty-free to avoid project disruptions, they wrote.

Lastly, the administration should determine and review the short-term economic effects of the tariffs to determine if a different approach is warranted.

The president is expected this week to announce a final tariff plan.

Last week, Trump announced that he would impose tariffs of 25 percent on all imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

Under section 232 of the trade law, the president can impose tariffs or quotas on imported materials for national security purposes.

The move brought quick threats of retaliation from top U.S. allies and trading partners, including Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union.

“We urge you to reconsider the idea of broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to the U.S. economy and its workers,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We are eager to work with you in pursuing a workable, targeted approach that achieves our shared goal.”