Auto industry groups, lawmakers urge Trump administration to avoid tariffs on auto imports

Auto industry groups, lawmakers urge Trump administration to avoid tariffs on auto imports
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A bipartisan group of 149 members of Congress on Wednesday urged Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis Ross'In any other administration': Trump's novel strategy for dealing with scandal Desperate Democrats badmouth economy even as it booms Trump scheduled to attend Davos amid impeachment trial MORE to back away from threats of imposing tariffs on automobiles and automotive parts or risk damaging the U.S. economy.

In a letter led by Reps. Jackie WalorskiJacqueline (Jackie) R. WalorskiCongressional leaders unite to fight for better future for America's children and families The Suburban Caucus: Solutions for America's suburbs Protect American patients and innovation from a harmful MedTech Tax increase MORE (R-Ind.), Terri SewellTerrycina (Terri) Andrea SewellSanders, Warren battle for progressive endorsements Biden gains endorsement from Alabama's lone Democratic House rep House panel advances Trump's new NAFTA MORE (D-Ala.), Mike KellyGeorge (Mike) Joseph KellyEven in a time of impeachment, health care is on the agenda Top moments from historic House impeachment debate GOP lawmaker compares impeachment to Pearl Harbor MORE (R-Pa.) and Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindTreasury watchdog to investigate Trump opportunity zone program How the 31 Democrats in Trump districts voted on impeachment Nearly all Democrats expected to back articles of impeachment MORE (D-Wis.), the lawmakers warned that tariffs, quotas or other restrictions on the industry will greatly diminish the benefits of the auto industry.

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President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump denies telling Bolton Ukraine aid was tied to investigations Former senior Senate GOP aide says Republicans should call witnesses Title, release date revealed for Bolton memoir MORE is threatening a 25 percent tariff on vehicles and components imported into the United States.

The Commerce Department is conducting a Section 232 investigation to determine whether autos or auto parts should be classified as a national security threat. 

“We do not believe that imports of automobiles and automotive parts pose a national security threat," the lawmakers wrote.

"Rather, we believe the imposition of trade restrictions on these products could undermine our economic security," they said. 

Meanwhile, seven auto industry groups sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday urging him to drop the investigation that could lead to higher tariffs on imported autos and auto parts.

“Raising tariffs on autos and auto parts would be a massive tax on consumers who buy or service their vehicles — whether imported or domestically produced," the groups wrote.  

"These higher costs will inevitably lead to declining sales and the loss of American jobs, as well as an increase in vehicle service and repair costs that may result in consumers delaying critical vehicle maintenance,” said groups said. 

Print ads in Washington, D.C. area publications as well as digital ads on media sites were set to run Wednesday and Thursday.

On Thursday, the Commerce Department will hold a hearing on autos and national security as part of the investigation.

"We have come together as a united U.S. auto industry — domestic and international automobile manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and auto care businesses — to urge your administration to achieve fair trade through policies that won't jeopardize American jobs, our economy or U.S. technological leadership.

The seven groups signing the letter are: Auto Alliance, American Automotive Policy Council, AutoCare Association, American International Automotive Dealers Association, Global Automakers, Motor and Equipment Manufacturing Association and the National Automobile Dealers Association.