Paul Ryan Tax Cut Showcase Upstaged by Trump Tariff Announcement

GOP chairman urges Trump to change direction on tariffs

Congressional Republicans and business groups braced Wednesday for the impact of expected tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, appearing resigned to additional protectionist trade actions as President Donald Trump signaled upcoming economic battles with China. Some of them will be mildly helped by the president's tariffs.

"The tariffs on steel and aluminum risk undermining these positive economic developments by increasing input costs to American manufacturing and steel-dependent industries employing more than 17 million workers", he said. Trade is now the issue that has driven the most distance between Ryan and the president he reluctantly endorsed during the campaign.

A slew of Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, expressed concern about the tariffs in the run up to the announcement.

The president reiterated that he would levy tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum but would "have a right to go up or down depending on the country and I'll have a right to drop out countries or add countries".

Cornyn is among the Republicans who've bucked the president on the tariffs, warning that they risk undermining strong US economic growth and undercutting the benefits of the Republican tax cut legislation passed a year ago.

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"Our factories were left to rot, and to rust all over the place".

Republicans worked for days both behind the scenes and with public pleas to try to get Trump to back down, or significantly curtail, his threat of tariffs. Canada tops the list, accounting for 16.7 per cent of USA steel imports, followed by Brazil (13.2 per cent), South Korea (9.7 per cent) and Mexico (9.4 per cent). He has urged Republican lawmakers to stay focused on reminding voters about the tax cuts rather than White House policy surprises and scandals.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have spoken out against the tariffs. At least two Senate committees are planning hearings on Trump's action, and Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona said he's planning legislation that would nullify the tariffs. He has tried to use the tariffs as leverage in ongoing talks to renegotiate NAFTA, suggesting Canada and Mexico might be exempted from tariffs if they offer more favorable terms under the trade agreement. He said he plans legislation that would nullify them. "There may be people who lose less".

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, praised Trump for exempting Mexico and Canada from tariffs - for now - and said the White House should "go further to narrow these tariffs so they hit the intended target -- and not US workers, businesses, and families".

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