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President Trump says he is “not backing down” on new tariffs

Published: Monday, March 05, 2018 @ 7:57 AM

Despite increasing opposition from Republicans in the Congress, President Donald Trump said Monday that he would not back off his announcement from last week to slap new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, as he tied the new import duties to ongoing trade negotiations with Canada and Mexico.

“No, we’re not backing down,” Mr. Trump said to reporters during an Oval Office photo op with the leader of Israel, saying the U.S. has been “ripped off” by other countries when it comes to trade.

“Our factories have left our country, our jobs have left our country,” the President said, labeling the NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico and Canada a “disaster.”

“We had a very bad deal with Mexico, we had a very bad deal with Canada,” as the President again threatened to terminate NAFTA agreement, saying that steel and aluminum coming into the U.S. from those two countries won’t be exempted from the new tariffs.

“So, we’ll see what happens,” Mr. Trump added.

“People have to understand, our country on trade has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world, whether it’s friend or enemy,” the President said. “Everybody.”

Mr. Trump again said that if European nations go ahead with their own retaliatory trade measures, then he would move to place new tariffs on their exports to the U.S. in response.

“If they want to do something, we’ll just tax their cars, which they send in here like water,” he added.

On Capitol Hill, GOP leaders made very clear today that they are not behind the President on the issue of new tariffs, with the clearest message coming from House Speaker Paul Ryan.

A top aide to Ryan sent an early morning email to the press from a CNBC story with the headline, “Dow opens more than 100 points lower as trade war fears rattle investors.”

“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war,” said a spokesman for Speaker Ryan.

The President brushed off such talk.

“I don’t think you’re going to have a trade war,” the President said today.

Trade was clearly on the President’s mind when he got up this morning, as he started his day pressing that point on Twitter.

Some Republicans openly expressed concern about the President’s abilities to press ahead with new tariffs.

“n a government system with checks and balances, the President should not have the power to unilaterally levy or alter tariffs,” said Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who has a bill that would involve the Congress more in that process.

But for now, Mr. Trump is the one driving that issue, with the Congress waiting to see what’s next.

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House to vote on two GOP immigration bills – both may fail

Published: Thursday, June 21, 2018 @ 7:28 AM

After months of internal wrangling over how best to deal with illegal immigration, the House is poised on Thursday to debate and vote on two immigration reform bills written by Republicans – but because of fissures inside the GOP – it’s possible both measures may go down to defeat on Thursday afternoon.

“This is very good compromise legislation,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was struggling to convince more conservative members of the House Freedom Caucus to back a bill that some GOP lawmakers denounced as “amnesty” for illegal immigrant “Dreamers.”

“The failed policies of previous administrations have catered to open border radicals and left Americans less free, less safe,” said Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), one Freedom Caucus member reluctant to vote for a more moderate GOP measure.

The internal bickering boiled over on the House floor on Wednesday afternoon, when Freedom Caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) appeared to engage in an angry back-and-forth with Speaker Ryan, during a vote on the House floor.

With no Democrats expected to back either of the GOP immigration bills – a rupture inside the GOP on these plans will lead to only one thing – defeat.

Two measures are on the schedule in the House – the “Securing America’s Future Act,” and the “Border Security and Immigration Reform Act.”

The first bill is the more conservative measure, drafted mainly by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the head of the House Judiciary Committee.

“I’m a ‘yes’ ‘yes,'” Goodlatte said of how he would vote on both bills. “I want 218 votes.”

But the chances of getting a majority on either bill seemed slim – moderates think the conservative bill is too harsh, while conservatives think the more moderate measure doesn’t do enough.

The measures delve deeply into a number of subjects, how to treat illegal immigrant DACA “Dreamers,” reform the asylum system, a host of changes in interior immigration enforcement laws, ending the diversity visa lottery, reforms for temporary agricultural workers, measures to address so-called “sanctuary cities,” more aggressive efforts to return unaccompanied children and other migrants, and much more.

The Goodlatte bill runs 414 pages – the other plan backed by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Rep. Carlos Curbelo totals 299 pages.

The House debate comes a day after a rare retreat by President Trump on the issue of immigration, as he announced a hastily drawn executive order, designed to stop the forced separation of illegal immigrant families.

But Democrats said while the order stopped children from being taken away from their parents, it left many questions unanswered.

“The president’s order does not solve this problem”,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). “It does nothing to reunify the 2,300 children who have been taken from their parents.”

“As a country, we are better than this! Separating children from their parents,” said Rep. Al Lawson (D-FL)

Republicans also chided the White House.

“It is about time the Administration takes action to address this issue, but more needs to be done,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL). “I want to make sure this practice is ended, unequivocally, and I strongly believe we still must take legislative action.”

“The President did the right thing by signing an executive order to keep families together at the border,” added Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL).

But despite all the talk, nothing on that seems likely to make it through the Congress anytime soon – as a possible double defeat for the GOP in the House on immigration reform seemed a strong possibility.

And it was obvious that a visit by President Trump on Tuesday night to the Capitol had done little to unify Republicans, as the President took another jab on Wednesday as Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), after mocking Sanford during the GOP meeting.

“I have never been a fan of his!” the President said of Sanford on Twitter.

“This was a classless cheap shot,” said Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI).

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Trump stops family separations, keeps ‘zero tolerance’ at border

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 3:42 PM

Under growing pressure from lawmakers in both parties, President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order that would allow illegal immigrant families detained by U.S. border authorities to remain together in many situations, ending an outcry over forced separations which took young children from their parents.

“I didn’t like the sight or the feeling of families being separated,” the President told reporters in the Oval Office, as he signed the new plan, which was drawn up as more and more Republicans publicly said Mr. Trump’s border crackdown had become a PR nightmare.

“The border is just as tough, but we do want to keep families together,” the President told reporters, as he repeatedly emphasized that an early May “zero tolerance” prosecution policy for those caught crossing the border illegally would continue.

It was that Trump Administration change which resulted in families being separated in recent weeks, spurring multiple news stories about young children, taken hundreds of miles away from their parents.

The signing represented a rare retreat for the President on any controversial policy during his administration; in recent days, top officials had repeatedly said there was no requirement that families be separated, but under current federal law, that option was triggered when parents of the kids were prosecuted, under the ‘zero tolerance’ plan.

“We have to have strong borders, and ultimately it will be done right,” the President declared.

Mr. Trump had tried in recent days to place the blame on Democrats in Congress, saying his hands were tied on the matter of family separations, as top officials said the law left them no leeway for change.

“What about executive action?” the President was asked during an impromptu press conference with reporters on the White House driveway last Friday.

“You can’t do it through an executive order,” Mr. Trump replied.

But that’s what he ultimately did.

The President’s move came amid a growing firestorm of criticism in Congress from members of both parties in the Congress, stirred by stories of young children taken away from their parents.

“This must stop NOW,” tweeted Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), as he noted a story from his home state, where an 8-month old baby had been brought, after being taken from her parents.

“He can sign an executive order today,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who was blocked on Tuesday from visiting a group of detained children at a federal facility in Homestead, Florida.

“This shameful chapter in American history lies with the President and his pen,” Nelson said, arguing the President started these separations, and should halt them.

“We must stop the madness, and stop it now,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

“America is weakened in the eyes of the world,” added Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).

“This is a policy straight from the pit of hell,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

GOP leaders also made clear they wanted the Trump Administration to change course.

“As I said last week, we do not want children taken away from their parents,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, as he urged GOP lawmakers to unite behind a pair of immigration bills which are expected to be voted on Thursday.

But while the Speaker and other Republicans said provisions in those bills would fix the family separation matter – those plans would not advance through the Senate – making it unlikely that Congress could anything done on the family separation matter.

That left the President with just one option – an administrative reversal on something that he had fiercely stood behind the effort.

The change on illegal immigrant families came in early May, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy dealing with those illegally coming over the southern border.

“Today we are here to send a message to the world: we are not going to let this country be overwhelmed,” Sessions said in that May 7 speech.

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President Trump to reverse course on immigrant family separations

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 12:47 PM

Under pressure from lawmakers in both parties, President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he would sign a new executive order to stop the forced separation of illegal immigrant children and parents at the southern border with Mexico, a ‘zero tolerance’ policy that had been put in place by his administration in early May.

“We want to keep families together, it’s very important, I’ll be signing something in a little while to do that,” the President said, meeting with a number of GOP lawmakers from the House and Senate.

“We’re keeping families together, but we have to keep our borders strong,” Mr. Trump added.

It wasn’t immediately clear what Mr. Trump would sign, but the action would run counter to arguments that he and other White House officials had said for days – that only the Congress could make the needed changes on immigration dealing with family separation.

The President’s move came amid a growing firestorm of criticism in Congress from members of both parties in the Congress, stirred by stories of young children taken away from their parents.

“This must stop NOW,” tweeted Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), as he noted a story from his home state, where an 8-month old baby had been brought, after being taken from her parents.

“He can sign an executive order today,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), who was blocked on Tuesday from visiting a group of detained children at a federal facility in Homestead, Florida.

“This shameful chapter in American history lies with the President and his pen,” Nelson said, arguing the President started these separations, and should halt them.

“We must stop the madness, and stop it now,” said Rep. John Lewis (D-GA).

“America is weakened in the eyes of the world,” added Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA).

“This is a policy straight from the pit of hell,” said Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA).

GOP leaders also made clear they wanted the Trump Administration to change course.

“As I said last week, we do not want children taken away from their parents,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, as he urged GOP lawmakers to unite behind a pair of immigration bills which are expected to be voted on Thursday.

But while the Speaker and other Republicans said provisions in those bills would fix the family separation matter – those plans would not advance through the Senate – making it unlikely that Congress could anything done on the family separation matter.

The change on illegal immigrant families came in early May, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a “zero tolerance” policy dealing with those illegally coming over the southern border.

“Today we are here to send a message to the world: we are not going to let this country be overwhelmed,” Sessions said in that May 7 speech.

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After Trump visit, Republicans try to rally behind immigration bill

Published: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 @ 11:07 PM

President Donald Trump tried on Tuesday evening to push Republicans in the House to pass an immigration reform bill later this week, basically telling GOP lawmakers he would support whatever they could pass, as Republicans struggled to find the votes to do that, and pressed the White House to back off a new policy that separates some illegal immigrant kids from their parents after being picked up at the border.

“The system’s been broken for many years,” the President told reporters at the Capitol before the unusual Tuesday evening gathering.

“The immigration system, it’s been a really bad, bad. system, probably the worst anywhere in the world. And we’re gonna try and see if we can fix it.”

Earlier in the day, the President had told a gathering of business leaders that he would not back off his calls for major changes in U.S. immigration laws.

“When people come up, they have to know they’re never going to get in, or else it’s never going to stop,” Mr. Trump said of the flow of illegal immigration across the southern border with Mexico.

But complicating matters for the President was the recent move to force the separation of children and parents, if the parents were being charged for illegally entering the United States, as that continued to draw stern opposition from GOP lawmakers of all stripes.

“All of us are horrified at the images that we are seeing,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).

“We ought to stop separating families,” said Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS). “The Administration disagrees,” as GOP lawmakers said the conflict wasn’t really discussed during the Tuesday night meeting with Mr. Trump.

“We can have strong border security without separating families,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).

13 GOP Senators signed a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, asking the Trump Administration to “halt current policies leading to the forced separation of minor children from their parents,” but that missive fell on deaf ears at the White House, as GOP lawmakers scrambled for kind of legislative answer.

House GOP leaders on Tuesday night posted two different immigration bills for possible House votes – one was a more conservative plan backed by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), which was unlikely to get close to a majority; a second was a more moderate bill that lacked the support of conservatives.

It left many unsure what would happen if votes occurred this week on the House floor.

“I’m still working through whether I can vote for the compromise bill,” said Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH), as more conservative lawmakers withheld their support from the only all-GOP plan that has a chance for approval.

Meanwhile, even as Mr. Trump tried to push Republicans to stick together on immigration, he managed to cause some internal GOP pain, as lawmakers said the President – during the closed door meeting with House lawmakers – took a verbal shot at Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who lost his primary a week ago to a candidate backed by the President.

“Is Mark Sanford here? I just want to congratulate him on running a great race,” the President reportedly said, drawing quiet groans and hisses from some GOP members.

One Republican, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) said later on Twitter, that the jab was uncalled for.

“This was a classless cheap shot,” Amash wrote.

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