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Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump wants to sign a presidential proclamation tomorrow to set his steel and aluminum tariffs in motion, according to two senior administration officials. (More on how proclamations work below).

The big picture: Trump is impatient and he wants to act — or at least be seen as acting. He got fed up with staff, especially Gary Cohn and Rob Porter, not giving him his tariffs on steel and aluminum. And some of Trump’s nationalist-minded advisers are telling him these tariffs will help turn out voters in the upcoming special election in Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district.

Yes, but: Keep in mind that this is what Trump has been telling staff he wants. These days — and in this White House — nothing is set in stone. Besides, the White House lawyers have been working overtime on these tariffs and sources tell me nothing is certain when it comes to timing.

What to watch from a proclamation:

  1. Are any countries exempted? If not, this is a global 25% tariff on steel, and 10% on aluminum.
  2. What, if any, steel and aluminum products are exempted? Past proclamations have listed specific products for targeted tariffs, but they were on different grounds than this round.
  3. What does the post-tariff exclusion process look like? How do they handle the potential exemptions for specific products or countries after the fact?

How it works:

  • The Trump administration used a proclamation earlier this year when it slapped restrictions on Chinese solar panels.
  • Most proclamations imposing tariffs — like Trump's move against Chinese solar, Obama's 2009 Chinese tire tariffs, or Bush's 2002 steel tariffs — are highly-detailed documents based on government trade reports.
  • They also tend to run through the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), but this round will not because they're using Wilbur Ross' Section 232 report, citing national security grounds.
  • This one is different: 232 is rarely invoked, but one example is Ronald Reagan's use of 232 in 1982, when he cited national security grounds for ending oil imports from Libya.

The backdrop: Next Tuesday's looming Pennsylvania election could be pushing Trump to act quickly, given that the race is taking place in industrial steel and coal strongholds in the southwestern corner of the state. Trump's preferred candidate Rick Saccone is struggling against Democrat Conor Lamb. Senior Republicans on the Hill and inside the administration are nervous and pessimistic about this race in a district they really ought to win.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

Biden in call with Netanyahu raises concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza

Photo: Ahmad Gharabli/Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images

President Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and raised concerns about civilian casualties in Gaza and the bombing of the building that housed AP and other media offices, according to Israeli officials.

The big picture: At least 140 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed in Gaza since fighting between Israel and Hamas began Monday, according to Palestinian health officials. Nine people, including two children, have been killed by Hamas rockets in Israel.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

"Horrified": AP, Al Jazeera condemn Israel's bombing of their offices in Gaza

A ball of fire erupts from the Jalaa Tower as it is destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Associated Press and Al Jazeera on Saturday condemned the Israeli airstrike that destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza that housed their and other media offices.

What they're saying: The White House, meanwhile, said it had "communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a paramount responsibility," according to press secretary Jen Psaki.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
6 hours ago - Health

The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

The Wuhan Institute of Virology. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images The COVID lab-leak theory goes mainstream

A group of high-profile scientists published a letter calling for renewed investigation into the origins of COVID-19 — including the theory that it spilled out of a virology lab.

Why it matters: The possibility that SARS-CoV-2 was created in a Chinese lab and accidentally escaped — rather than emerging naturally from an animal — was initially dismissed as a conspiracy theory. But the letter shows a potential lab leak is increasingly being taken seriously.