Trump-GOP split: Senators loudly oppose Mexico tariff threat




  • In World/Latin America
  • 2019-06-05 00:21:21Z
  • By LISA MASCARO, LUIS ALONSO LUGO and DARLENE SUPERVILLE
 

WASHINGTON (AP) - In a rare confrontation, Republican senators declared deep opposition Tuesday to President Donald Trump's threatened tariffs on all goods coming into the U.S. from Mexico. But it's unclear they have the votes to stop him, and Trump said they'd be "foolish" to try.

All sides, including officials from Mexico meeting with Trump negotiators in Washington this week, remain hopeful that high-level talks will ease the president away from his threat. But with the tariffs set to start next Monday - and Trump declaring them "more likely" than not to take effect - fellow Republicans in Congress warned the White House they are ready to stand up to the president.

The public split and looming standoff over 5% tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico revealed a fundamental divergence in values between the president and his party. Trump uses tariffs as leverage to get what he wants - in this case to force Mexico to do more to halt illegal immigration. For Republicans, tariffs are counter to firmly rooted orthodoxy and viewed as nothing more than taxes they strenuously oppose.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said with understatement, "There is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that's for sure."

At a lengthy closed-door lunch meeting at the Capitol, senators took turns warning Trump officials there could be trouble if the GOP-held Senate votes on disapproving the tariffs. Congressional rejection would be a stiff rebuke to Trump, even more forceful than an earlier effort to prevent him from shifting money to build his long-promised border wall with Mexico.

"Deep concern and resistance," is how Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas characterized the mood. "I will yield to nobody in passion and seriousness and commitment to securing the border, but there's no reason for Texas farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and small businesses to pay the price of massive new taxes."

Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, who was among the senators who spoke up, said, "I think the administration has to be concerned about another vote of disapproval. ... I'm not the only one saying it."

The outcome would be uncertain - Trump could try to veto a disapproval resolution as he did before. But many Republicans who voted against Trump earlier this year actually supported his ultimate goal of building the border wall. They were just uneasy with his executive reach to do it. Now, the president doesn't have anywhere near the same backing for the tariffs.

The GOP opposition is grounded in fears over what Trump's tariffs would do to the livelihoods of ordinary Americans . Senators worry they would spike U.S. consumers' costs , harm the economy and imperil a major pending US-Mexico-Canada trade deal.

With jitters running high, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Tuesday he's prepared to respond to protect the economy, and stocks rallied on that signal that the Fed will likely cut interest rates later this year.

Mexico is concerned about the tariffs as well, but top officials seemed optimistic about a resolution.

"By what we have seen so far, we will be able to reach an agreement," Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said during a news conference at the Mexican Embassy in Washington. "That is why I think the imposition of tariffs can be avoided."

Trump, during a press conference in London, offered mixed messages.

"We're going to see if we can do something," he said on the second day of his state visit to Britain.

"But I think it's more likely that the tariffs go on," he said. He also said he doubted Republicans in Congress would muster the votes against him. "If they do, it's foolish."

The Mexican officials arrived in Washington over the weekend as Mexico launched a diplomatic counteroffensive and fresh negotiations. On Tuesday, Mexico's trade negotiator Jesus Seade was meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and Ebrard will meet Wednesday with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Republican senators are hopeful those talks will prevent the tariffs. But if negotiations should fail, the lawmakers warn they may have no choice but to take action to stop Trump.

"Our hope is the tariffs will be avoided," McConnell said.

Lawmakers and business allies worry the tariffs will derail the long-promised United-States-Mexico-Canada trade deal- a rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump campaigned against and promised to replace.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, chairman of the Finance Committee, told reporters Tuesday the tariffs make passage of USMCA "more difficult."

Questions remained, meanwhile, over how, exactly, the president would invoke executive authority to slap tariffs on the Mexican goods -- and what Congress could do to block him.

Trump has indicated he will rely on the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a national emergency executive action he can take without congressional approval.

But lawmakers say they can quickly vote on a resolution to disapprove. That's what happened earlier this year when Congress, stunned by Trump's claim of executive power, tried to block him from taking funds for the border wall with Mexico. Congress voted to disapprove of Trump's actions, but the president vetoed the resolution.

This time, Republicans warn the numbers could be higher against the president - possibly a veto-proof majority in the Senate. But it's unclear the president could be blocked in the House where Republicans may be less likely to oppose him.

Democrats - and some Republicans - doubt the tariffs will ever take effect. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Tuesday that "Trump has a habit of talking tough and then retreating."

Trump struck back against Schumer on Twitter, insisting the tariff threat was "no bluff."

Earlier Tuesday, Trump claimed "millions of people" are entering the U.S. through Mexico and criticized congressional Democrats for not passing new laws. He said, "Mexico should not allow millions of people to try and enter our country."

It is unclear what more Mexico can do - and what would be enough - to satisfy Trump on illegal immigration, a signature issue of his presidency.

The United States has not presented concrete benchmarks to assess whether the U.S. ally is sufficiently stemming the migrant flow from Central America. Mexico calls the potential tariffs hurtful to the economies of both countries and useless to slow the northbound flow of Central American migrants.

___

Associated Press writer Padmananda Rama contributed.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Justice Dept. ratchets up antitrust scrutiny of Big Tech
Justice Dept. ratchets up antitrust scrutiny of Big Tech

The U.S. Department of Justice opened a sweeping antitrust investigation of major technology companies and whether their online platforms have hurt competition, suppressed innovation or otherwise harmed consumers. It said the probe will take into account "widespread concerns" about social media, search engines and online retail services. Its antitrust division is seeking information from the public, including those in the tech industry.

Trump sues House panel, NY to protect state tax returns
Trump sues House panel, NY to protect state tax returns

Opening up another legal front against the Democrats investigating him, President Donald Trump on Tuesday sued the House Ways and Means Committee and New York state officials to prevent his state tax returns from being turned over to the congressional committee. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to block the application of a new New York state law that could allow the Democratic-controlled House and Ways Means Committee to obtain the returns. The lawsuit, filed in Washington, comes amid a furious White House attempt to prevent the president's tax returns to wind up in Democratic hands.

Iran announces arrests, death sentences as CIA spy ring busted
Iran announces arrests, death sentences as CIA spy ring busted

Iran arrested 17 suspects and sentenced some to death after dismantling a CIA spy ring, an official said Monday, as tensions soar between the Islamic republic and arch-enemy the United States. Security agencies "successfully dismantled a (CIA) spy network," the head of counter-intelligence at the Iranian intelligence ministry, whose identity was not revealed, told reporters in Tehran. Tehran has been at loggerheads with Washington and its allies since May 2018, when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a landmark 2015 deal putting curbs on Iran's nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

'Our paychecks bounced': US workers in limbo as coalmines suddenly close

Blackjewel files for chapter 11 in a move critics say is increasingly used to avoid paying workers what they are owed A mother and daughter walk past a line of miners' cars down Highway 421 in Harlan, Kentucky. Many questions about Blackjewel's operations have not been answered. Photograph: Alton Strupp

Voice Of America Ignores Reasons For Trump
Voice Of America Ignores Reasons For Trump's Criticism Of Rep. Ilhan Omar

Ilhan Omar, but failed to include most of the reasons for the criticism.VOA wrote "Trump has found his latest target for acerbic ridicule - a hijab-wearing Muslim newcomer to Congress named Ilhan Omar."The news agency mentioned briefly only two instances of Omar's anti-Semitic remarks, referring to one as playing "off tropes questioning the influence of Jewish money in American politics."Trump began tweeting Sunday about how the "'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen…should go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it's done."The tweets were likely aimed at Democratic Reps. Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.