Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., introduced legislation that would nullify the tariffs. "We in Congress simply can't be complicit as this administration courts economic disaster in this fashion", Flake said in a Senate floor speech.
Congress has the power to challenge President Trump on new tariffs, but it's unlikely lawmakers will act, even though almost all congressional Republicans oppose the president's trade policy because they believe it will harm the USA economy. He said he would support Congress passing laws to curtail the president's executive power.
"Trade wars are not won, they are only lost", Flake said in the statement. Congressional Republicans are anxious that Trump's trade policy will mitigate any economic benefits from their 2017 tax cuts, particularly in a midterm election year when Republicans want to run on a platform of economic success.
Even if there is an initial victory from a friendly court to stay Trump's tariffs, a case would face hard appeals, according to Mark Warner, a Toronto-based trade lawyer with MAAW Law who practices in the US and Canada. He has vowed to counter Trump's proclamations on tariffs. The prices of a host of products made from steel and aluminum are expected to rise, and several countries have already threatened to impose their own tariffs on USA goods in retaliation.
Countries could challenge Trump's action in the World Trade Organization, putting this global forum in the uncomfortable position of determining what is in the "essential security interests" of the USA, in accordance with an existing agreement on tariffs and trade. "It's something I'm very upset about". "I'm personally going to wait and see what the president has in mind, what the final deal is".
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Trump has defended his decision on Twitter, saying that trade wars are "good and easy to win".
And while there are limits to what they can do to stop it, members are contemplating measures that could block the president from fully implementing his proposal.
That bill would require congressional approval for major changes to trade policy.
In a rare show of spine, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) put out a statement, which read in part: "I disagree with this action and fear its unintended consequences".
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the exemptions for Canada and Mexico are not enough. "We will continue to urge the administration to narrow this policy so that it is focused only on those countries and practices that violate trade law".