Republicans Threaten to Block Donald Trump's Proposed Mexico Tariffs

Top Republican senators on Tuesday said there is very little support from GOP colleagues to approve President Donald Trump's recently proposed tariffs on Mexico.

After Republican senators met with White House officials at lunch, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told a group of reporters "there is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that's for sure," according to Politico.

Senators held a closed-door lunch with White House deputy counsel Pat Philbin and Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel, who were on hand to discuss the president's plan to slap a 5 percent tariff on Mexico to curb the border crisis.

However, the Republican lawmakers stood strong against the tariff, and said they have enough votes against it to prevent an overriding veto from the president.

Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford said the White House "is trying to use tariffs to solve every problem but HIV and climate change."

North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer said many of his GOP colleagues "are tariff weary," and that he could potentially see at least 20 Republicans opposing the president's plan.

"The president has to consider whether or not a veto can be sustained. That would be a really good, important discussion for him to have with Republican members of Congress before going that route," said Cramer, who's considered an ally to President Trump.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who was the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, said he would not support the president's tariff because it's like placing a burden on a "friend."

"When it comes to applying a tariff to Mexico, I for one would not support that. I do not favor tariffs being applied to friends like Mexico," Romney said. "If there's a vote I think it's a very difficult vote for those of us who oppose tariffs. I would not be inclined to vote [for] a tariff against a friend."

Politico reported the White House officials presented two options to the senators. The first was to use the president's recent national emergency declaration for a border wall to implore tariffs, and the other was to declare yet another emergency, which would open a new tariff authority for the president.

Philbin and Engel didn't disclose which option the president would choose, but said a decision would be made within a week.

Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy said although the White House officials at the meeting are "both bright guys," neither has decision-making authority and no clear path was laid out by Trump, who is on a state visit in the United Kingdom.

"What I'm hoping we can do is when the president gets back from the U.K. we can all sit down and try to figure out how to move forward together," said Kennedy, who claimed he has already spoken with Trump about tariffs.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn said a direct dialogue with the president was urgent before any decisions were to be made.

"The problem is we didn't have the decision makers there. The president and half his cabinet is over in Europe, and obviously the clock is ticking," Cornyn said. "Time's wasting. What we need to do is get in front of the president and have that conversation."

Meanwhile in London, the president told reporters he had "tremendous Republican support," and that tariffs against Mexico were likely to begin next Monday.

Politico reported that Republicans left Tuesday's lunch "confused" on how tariffs against Mexico would be implemented, and any legalities surrounding them.

Republicans Threaten to Stump Tariffs
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (2nd L) speaks as Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) (R), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) (L) and Sen. John Thune (R-SD) (3rd L) listen during a news briefing after a weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon October 10, 2018 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Senate Republicans held a policy luncheon to discuss GOP agenda. Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images