House Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders are threatening some kind of legislative action to fight back against President Trump's steel tariffs, something many GOP lawmakers have made it clear they oppose.
“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan," Ryan spokesperson AshLee Strong said. "The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don't want to jeopardize those gains."
Nobody will say what legislation Congress might consider in response to the tariffs, which Trump said are needed to correct a significant trade deficit. But one GOP aide said some action is possible.
"Congressional leaders won’t rule out potential action down the line," the aide said.
Ryan has a particular reason to worry — several press reports have said Europe might consider retaliating by hiking tariffs on cheese from Wisconsin and bourbon from Kentucky in order to put the pressure on him and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Still, Trump said Monday he won't back down from his plan to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports. Trump tweeted Monday the tariffs would be eliminated if the United States is able to renegotiate a "new and fair" North American Free Trade Agreement, but it wasn't clear if he would only agree to drop the tariffs for Canada and Mexico or the whole world if a new NAFTA deal were reached.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, is calling on Trump to narrow the tariffs to certain countries and not include all foreign imports.
"Make sure you're exempting fairly traded products," Brady tweeted. "Grandfather existing products so there’s not disruption.”