House Speaker Ryan Breaks With Trump Over Steel Tariffs

03/05/18 02:02 PM EST
By Siobhan Hughes 

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Paul Ryan broke with President Donald Trump over his decision to impose tariffs on imported aluminum and steel products, issuing an implicit warning to the White House to drop the plan.

"We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan," said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for the Republican from Wisconsin. "The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don't want to jeopardize those gains."

Congressional Republican leaders aren't ruling out potential legislative action aimed at blocking such tariffs, according to a Republican familiar with the matter. Any such legislative action would take the relationship between the GOP-led Congress and the Republican president into new waters.

More than one year into Mr. Trump's tenure, Republicans who differ with the president have handled their disagreements through words instead of actions, privately trying to persuade him of the merits of alternative courses of action or ignoring him as they did when Mr. Trump last week suggested taking people's guns away before granting them due-process rights.

The type of tariffs that Mr. Trump wants to impose are different because unlike on guns or immigration policy, the president has the power to unilaterally impose these trade sanctions without congressional approval, and because tariffs have the potential to upend the economic growth that Republicans want to harness heading into the mid-term elections.

Those factors are causing Republicans on Capitol Hill to reassess their approach to the president, as some who in the past have tended to rely on private diplomacy are for the first time starting to be more public with their concerns.

Underscoring the shift, the top Republicans overseeing trade policy have begun circulating a letter to Mr. Trump warning that tariffs are a bad idea. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R., Texas) and Rep. Dave Reichert (R., Wash.), who oversees a subcommittee focused on trade, have already drafted the letter and are seeking signatures, a spokesman for the Republicans on the panel said

The letter expresses "concerns about the prospect of broad, global tariffs on aluminum and steel imports," said the committee spokeswoman, Lauren Aronson. "As the two chairmen have reinforced, the administration and Congress must work together on trade policies that build off the momentum of the president's tax cuts, which is why any tariffs should be narrow, targeted and focused on addressing unfairly traded products without disrupting the flow of fairly traded products for American businesses and consumers."


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 05, 2018 14:02 ET (19:02 GMT)

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