President Trump Tariffs Trigger Republican Rebellion

The rebellion is swelling among members of the US Congress’s Republican majority dismayed over Donald Trump’s contentious new trade tariffs, with many elected officials threatening to block the president’s decree.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), (C), speaks to the media while flanked by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), (R), and House Majority Whip, Steve Scalise (R-LA) (L), after a meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill, on March 6, 2018 in Washington, DC.
MARK WILSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

The US leader has triggered howls of protest in his own camp by slapping tariffs of 25 percent on imports of steel and 10 percent on aluminum on Thursday, with only Canada and Mexico exempt for the time being.

Historically proponents of free trade, several Republicans dubbed the measures “stupid” and “misguided” — if the United States increases the cost of both materials, they hold, American producers of vehicles and other products will suffer setbacks on the international playing field, and consumers will pay more.

Trump moreover found little support among Democrats, even though that party is historically more protectionist.

In the Senate, Republicans are opposing the duties en masse, with Senator Jeff Flake already preparing a bill to “nullify these tariffs.”

His colleague Mike Lee, of the ultra-conservative Tea Party, immediately claimed congressional powers as defined in the Constitution’s first article — which says the power to tax belongs to the legislature — promising “to make sure these tax hikes are never enforced.”

And with midterm elections looming, the extraordinary backlash from the president’s Republican Party sets up a showdown between the chief executive and his own majority lawmakers.

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