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Published: Tuesday, June 04, 2019 @ 3:33 PM
— Completely in agreement with President Donald Trump on the need for action along the border with Mexico to slow the influx of illegal immigration, GOP Senators emerged from a closed door meeting on Tuesday fuming about the possibility of new tariffs being levied next week on imports from Mexico, but giving no hints they would try to stop such a move by the President.
"What we're seeing right now is a giant game of chicken," said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who said new tariffs on Mexican imports could lead to retaliatory trade measures by the Mexican government, inflicting economic pain especially on the Lone Star State.
"The answer however, is not imposing tariffs against Mexico," Cruz said, noting that his state's businesses import over $100 billion in goods each year - and enjoy a trade surplus back with the Mexicans.
"We want Mexico to work with us," said Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), "but clearly there is concern about tariffs."
Asked about the tariffs after a closed door GOP meeting with Trump Administration lawyers, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would only say it was his 'hope' that 'these tariffs will be avoided.'
Today's Senate GOP lunch did not go well for the administration as they tried to justify the Mexico tariffs.— Erica Werner (@ericawerner) June 4, 2019
A series of hostile comments from Cruz, Portman, Gardner, Johnson et al ... and no one spoke in favor
Admin officials present said they'd take it back to WH..
McConnell says there’s “not much support” among Senate Republicans for the Trump tariffs on Mexico.— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) June 4, 2019
“Most of us hope” Mexicans will do more on immigration “and these tariffs will not kick in,” he says.
Potential for disapproval resolution?
“We’re hoping that doesn’t happen.”
Democrats in Congress said what they were watching was a familiar refrain - where President Trump takes a stand on an issue which ordinarily would draw a furious response from the GOP - but little to nothing is ever done by Republican members to do anything about it.
"The Senate could stop these insane tariffs on Mexico tomorrow morning," said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), as he called for a vote on a measure to block the President's tariff threat.
"Democrats and Republicans agree: threatening a neighbor and ally with senseless, shortsighted tariffs over an unrelated issue is simply reckless." said Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE).
Complicating matters was the unresolved issue of whether President Trump will have to declare another national emergency, in order to invoke powers under a 1977 law, then using that to slap tariffs on imports from Mexico.
"The old one doesn't include the current possible action," said Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), said of the President's emergency border declaration. "So, it appears they have to do something new."
"The way they put it was is they are still working through all of the details on it," said Sen. Mike Rounds (R-ND).
After GOP lunch Mike Rounds says it’s still unclear whether Trump will have to declare a new national emergency for Mexico tariffs. (1/2)— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) June 4, 2019
Today on @SquawkCNBC, I expressed my concern about imposing tariffs on Mexico over issues unrelated to trade & why #USMCA is important to our economy. We should address the crisis at the border w/o endangering #Ohio #jobs & economic growth. https://t.co/pmUqfSvJIY— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) June 4, 2019
If a new emergency is needed, that could prompt a new round of votes in both the House on a resolution to disapprove of the President's emergency declaration.
Such a disapproval resolution passed both the House and Senate on Mr. Trump's move to shift money around in the military budget in order to fund construction of a border wall - the President vetoed that measure, and Congress was unable to override that veto.