Updated Jun 2, 2019 - Economy & Business

Republicans slam Trump's Mexico tariff threat

Senators Joni Ernst, Mitt Romney, Chuck Grassley

Photo: Scott Olson/Chris Maddaloni/Win McNamee/Getty Images

Republican lawmakers are voicing their concerns and grievances following President Trump's Thursday announcement of new tariffs against Mexican goods.

Why it matters: While Republicans still argue that border security and immigration are top policy issues, some are worried Trump's sanctions could jeopardize plans to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

What they're saying:

  • Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) released a statement saying: "This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent. Following through on this threat would seriously jeopardize passage of USMCA, a central campaign pledge of President Trump’s and what could be a big victory for the country. President Trump should consider alternatives, such as imposing a fee on the billions of dollars of remittances that annually leave the United States to Mexico, which only encourage illegal immigration and don’t help the U.S. economy."
  • Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said: "A tariff targeting Mexico that negatively impacts our own interests will only end in a waiting game of increasingly harmful consequence to the American people."
  • Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) released a statement: "If the president goes through with this, I’m afraid progress to get this trade agreement across the finish line will be stifled. While I support the need for comprehensive border security and a permanent fix to illegal immigration, this isn’t the right path forward. I’m asking the president to reconsider, and for Democrats to work with us to find a solution to the humanitarian crisis at our southern border.”
  • Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) in a statement said: "The president is right to point out the crisis at our southern border. However, a blanket tax increase on everything Americans purchase from Mexico is the wrong remedy. Tariffs are a dangerous and risky economic tool. They raise the cost of products for American families, reduce market share abroad for U.S. exporters, and make our economy less competitive globally. History has shown us time and again that nobody wins a trade war: Trade is mutually beneficial, and trade restrictions, like tariffs, are mutually harmful."
  • Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) tweeted: "I support @POTUS’ proposals to fund border security & change certain laws that encourage people to come from Central America. Let’s focus on solving the crisis at the border but not hurt our economy and endanger an important @POTUS goal -- a better trade deal w/ #Canada & #Mexico."
  • Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.): "I think it was a mistake. I am not saying we don't have a crisis at the border, we clearly do. I'm not saying it won't work. The president, López Obrador, has already indicated that he's ready to talk, but I am worried about the long-term ramifications," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Go deeper: Trump announces new tariffs against Mexico

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