Gary Cohn and Paul Ryan Leading Last Ditch Campaigns Against Trump Tariffs

Violet Powell
March 11, 2018

President Donald Trump has signed proclamations imposing tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. He suggested Australia and "other countries" might also be spared, a shift that could soften the worldwide blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners.

The president was surrounded by steel and aluminum workers as he explained his decision at a White House ceremony.

The tariffs will not initially apply to Canada and Mexico, the president said, adding security and trade partners could negotiate to seek exemptions.

"We just want fairness", he added.

The president indicated Canada and Mexico's treatment would be connected to the ongoing NAFTA talks, which are expected to resume in early April.

Sarah Sanders further referred that lawmakers should not be in a state of shock after the President's move, as "If they were caught off guard, they simply haven't been listening to what he's been saying and what he's been talking about and how he's promised to make good trade deals", she said. A permanent exclusion of the two neighbours will, however, depend on the outcome of the NAFTA renegotiation talks, he said.

Countries could challenge Trump's action in the World Trade Organization, putting this global forum in the uncomfortable position of determining what is in the "essential security interests" of the USA, in accordance with an existing agreement on tariffs and trade.

The fight over tariffs comes amid intense turmoil in the West Wing, which has seen waves of departures and negative news stories that have left Trump increasingly isolated in the Oval Office, according to two senior officials speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal thinking.

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Trump says he's sticking with his initial plan for import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

Lawmakers have largely remained in the dark about the White House's plans, but many senators said it's a long shot at best to stop Trump. But the issue of tariffs has sparked the Wisconsin Republican's strongest criticism of the president's policies.

House Speaker Paul Ryan, appearing at a session with Home Depot employees in Atlanta, said ahead of Trump's announcement, "I'm just not a fan of broad-based, across-the-board tariffs".

Republican critics on Capitol Hill and within the administration argue that industries and their workers that rely on steel and aluminum for their products will suffer.

John McCain, expressed concern that Trump's sharp tariffs will actually hurt the US economy.

"We have a conducive tax and regulatory-the economy looks good".

"We urge the administration to take this risk seriously", Donohue said. Some of them will be mildly helped by the president's tariffs.

The White House, however, held out the possibility of exemption or delayed execution of the order for some countries, notably neighbours Canada and Mexico with which the U.S. has been engaged in talks aimed at a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that Trump has been insisting upon.

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