Senate Republicans want just one thing when it comes to Donald Trump’s global trade war: a cease-fire.
It’s a move that would benefit not just their caucus, senators argue, but the president too.
If Trump withholds new tariffs, he can reasonably expect Senate passage of his new North American trade deal this summer, assuming Speaker Nancy Pelosi budges in the House — still a big if. And if he imposes new tariffs, he could see a major effort to restrict his trade powers finally come to fruition at the hands of his own party.
Trump already got a taste of how Senate Republicans would confront him during his will-he-or-won’t-he vow to impose stiff tariffs on imports from Mexico.
Using the chance to approve a NAFTA replacement as a carrot and threats to block his Mexico tariffs as a stick, GOP senators last week helped stop 5 percent levies from being slapped on all Mexican goods. But Trump warned on Monday that “tariffs will be reinstated” if Mexico doesn’t follow through on his vague deal to stem the surge of Central American migrants, and senators take him at his word.
“If Mexico does not step up, I think the president will come back to it,” Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) said. “I don’t want to see tariffs as a tool for everything that could possibly go wrong. I don’t think everything’s smooth. Mexico needs to step up.”