The Senate’s top Republican slammed President Trump’s proposed tariff on all Mexican goods, referring to the move as an abuse of presidential authority.
Sen. Charles Grassley, president pro tempore of the Senate and chairman of the Finance Committee, questioned whether Trump had the legal authority to impose the tariffs.
In a strongly worded statement, the senator wrote, “Trade policy and border security are separate issues. This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent.”
“Following through on this threat would seriously jeopardize passage USMCA, a central campaign pledge of President Trump’s and what could be a big victory for the country,” he added.
Trump on Thursday announced that he plans to impose a 5% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico beginning June 10, should Mexico fail to take steps to cut the flow of illegal immigrants from Central America traversing its territory en route to the U.S. The tariffs will be increased monthly thereafter, until they hit 25%.
Trump argued that he has powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Grassley offered alternatives to the tariffs that would do less harm to the American economy, “such as imposing a fee on the billions of dollars of remittances that annually leave the United States to Mexico, which only encourage illegal immigration and don’t help the U.S. economy.”
The senator finished his statement, “Democrats should come to the table in a reasonable way and work to put an end to the security and humanitarian crisis on the border. I support nearly every one of President Trump’s immigration policies, but this is not one of them. I urge the president to consider other options.”
Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a former U.S. trade representative, expressed similar concerns. “Let’s focus on solving the crisis at the border, but not hurt our economy and endanger an important @POTUS goal — a better trade deal w/ #Canada & #Mexico,” he wrote on Twitter.