- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
- More than 100 House Republicans wrote a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to rethink his proposed tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.
- They join a growing chorus of Republican lawmakers urging the president to change his mind on the tariffs.
House Republicans are stepping up their campaign to stop or alter President Donald Trump’s most recent economic policy announcement: broad-based tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel.
More than 100 House Republicans sent a letter to Trump on Wednesday urging him to soften the blow of the recently announced tariffs, which are taxes on imports, and instead target China directly with trade action.
“We support your resolve to address distortions caused by China’s unfair practices, and we are committed to acting with you and our trading partners on meaningful and effective action,” the letter said. “But we urge you to reconsider the idea of broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to the US economy and its workers.”
In a statement accompanying the letter, Rep. Kevin Brady, the chairman of the House Ways and Means committee who’s leading the GOP’s push against the tariffs – 25% for steel and 10% for aluminum – attempted to back Trump while critiquing the policy.
“We’re writing today to say: we stand with you in taking tough action to keep America safe and our economy strong,” Brady said. “At the same time, we’re urging the President to tailor these tariffs so American businesses can continue to trade fairly with our partners, sell American-made products to customers all over the world, and hire more workers here at home.”
The authors listed a few major concerns about how the tariffs could affect the US economy, such as increasing prices for consumers and raising costs for businesses that rely on the metals to make their products.
Additionally, the lawmakers argue, the negative consequences of the tariffs could undo any positive economic boost from the new GOP tax law. Losing that could also undercut the party’s key message for midterm elections later this year.
To mitigate these issues, Brady and the other signatories suggested allowing US companies to apply for an exemption from the tariffs if they are unable to fill their metal needs domestically. They said the administration should also regularly review the measure to determine whether it is having the intended effect.
Republican leaders have been pressuring Trump to ease up on the tariffs since he announced them unexpectedly last week.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have both expressed misgivings about the tariffs over the past few days, and other Republicans have offered less-than-glowing opinions of Trump’s move.
“This is not a real-estate transaction,” Sen. John Cornyn, the second-highest-ranking GOP senator, told reporters on Tuesday. “You could maybe walk away from a real-estate transaction – we really can’t walk away from these trade agreements without jeopardizing the economy.”
Trump is expected to formally sign off on the tariffs on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. ET.