than 100 House Republicans are urging President Trump to abandon his sweeping plan for global tariffs and narrow his focus to punishing perennial trade violators.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (Texas) and Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade Chairman Dave Reichert (Wash.) gathered 107 GOP signatures on a letter sent to Trump on Wednesday calling on the president to tailor his plan for sweeping tariffs on all imported steel and aluminum.
“We are writing to express deep concern about the prospect of broad, global tariffs on aluminum and steel imports,” they wrote to the president in the letter first drafted earlier this week.
The lawmakers wrote that “any tariffs that are imposed should be designed to address specific distortions caused by unfair trade practices in a targeted way while minimizing negative consequences on American businesses and consumers.”
Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have pushed for Trump to focus his trade ire on China and other nations that engage in unfair practices that hurt U.S. workers instead of slapping across-the-board tariffs on nations following the rules.
“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 workers here at home,” Brady said.
Otherwise, they argue that Trump’s suggested tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum would do broad damage across the U.S. economy just as the tax-cut law is kicking in to boost growth.
“We urge you to reconsider the idea of broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to the U.S. economy and its workers,” the lawmakers wrote.
Trump is expected sign a tariff plan at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at the White House with supporters of the action, according to several reports.
Additional details have yet to be released on the scope of the tariffs.
Since Trump announced his plan last week, congressional Republicans have been lobbying the president to craft his plan to focus on countries like China, which is overproducing steel, causing a global glut and pushing down prices.
Republicans argue that adding across-the-board tariffs will undermine the expected economic boost from the recently enacted tax-cut law.
Trump’s call for the tariffs brought quick threats of retaliation from top U.S. allies and trading partners, including Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union.
The White House said Wednesday it may exempt Mexico, Canada and other nations from President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
“There are potential carveouts for Mexico and Canada based on national security, and possibly other countries as well, based on that process,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.
“That would be a case-by-case and country-by-country basis but it would be determined [by] whether or not there is a national security exemption,” she said.
Under Section 232 of a U.S. trade law, the president can impose tariffs or quotas on imported materials for national security purposes.
On Monday, Trump connected the tariffs with the outcome of the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations, signaling that a successful deal would ultimately lead to an exclusion from the tariffs for Mexico and Canada.
The openness to exemptions was a sign that the White House may be listening to criticism from its own party about the potential economic effect of the tariffs.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Wednesday that the Trump administration was not looking to start a trade war.
“We’re not trying to blow up the world,” Ross told CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
“There’s no intention of that. We want to balance our needs to fix the trade deficit with the needs of the economy, and the needs of the global economy itself,” he said.