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Ryan, Johnson speak out against Trump tariffs

11 March, 2018, 01:41 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • The Associated Press

The top Republican in the U.S. Congress, Paul Ryan, publicly denounced President Donald Trump's imposition Thursday of steep tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.

While watchdog groups argue the payment may have violated federal elections law, Ryan - who was in Atlanta to speak with Home Depot employees about the Republican tax cut bill - indicated he couldn't care less.

Trump, who announced his decision surrounded by steelworkers, said he was fulfilling a campaign promise. John McCain, expressed concern that Trump's sharp tariffs will actually hurt the USA economy.

"I disagree with this action and fear its unintended consequences", Ryan said.

Republicans were among those opposing the duties, joining economists and other nations in warning that they could start a global trade war.

The president reiterated that he would levy tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum but would "have a right to go up or down depending on the country and I'll have a right to drop out countries or add countries". He said he would support Congress passing laws to curtail the president's executive power. Trump was still hearing last-minute pleas from opponents of the tariff plan, and White House officials said they couldn't predict how the day would shake out.

Trump said he was "defending America's national security" by imposing the tariffs. "Our factories were left to rot and to rust all over the place", Trump said.

According to reports, Canada and Mexico are exempt from the tariffs amid larger trade negotiations.

All 435 seats in the House will be on ballots. The party's odds of gaining a majority in the Senate, where the GOP holds a one-vote majority, are steeper because Democrats hold most of the seats up for election this year.

"Unless the president reverses course, it will be American consumers, workers and families who will lose", Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein of California said.

In response, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) sail Thursday that he will soon draft a bill to block the tariffs from taking effect, calling Trump's move "a marriage of two lethal poisons to economic growth - protectionism and uncertainty". A White House official said Trump was referencing an ongoing investigation of China in which the US trade representative is studying whether Chinese intellectual property rules are "unreasonable or discriminatory" to American business. Both said they are continuing to lobby the president to change course. "There may be people who lose less".

As Trump vows to sign new bilateral treaties and amend the North American Free Trade Agreement, congressional leaders could seize the moment to reaffirm their role in USA trade policy.

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