While Republicans have abstained from blocking US President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, German Chancellor Angela Merkel says she hopes the EU would be exempted from US tariffs, however, stating that the EU must be ready to respond if not exempted.
“If this unilateral action cannot be avoided, then we must think about how we can respond in a reciprocal fashion; but I am first of all focusing on talks and there will be plenty of opportunities for them,” she said at a news conference in Berlin.
Speaking to business leaders in Munich last week, Merkel had said she hopes the European Union will be exempted from new US tariffs on foreign-made steel and aluminum, like Mexico and Canada.
“The best thing would be if we (the European Union) could be excluded.” However, she added, if talks fail, “we, in Europe, can of course also react.”
Last week, on Thursday, defying his own party and delivering on a campaign promise to fight unfair practices by America’s trading partners, Trump signed a highly controversial decree to levy import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.
Trump’s restrictions on imports, and what has been seen by traditional Republicans as an attack on “free markets,” is facing mounting pressure from Trump’s own party, for instance, pro-free trade Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona formally introduced legislation Monday to nullify the Trump tariffs on aluminum and steel.
However, GOP leaders are shying away from a direct confrontation with Trump over trade, and signaled Monday that they will not pass legislation against a Republican president.
“It may be more of a back and forth between the executive branch and Congress rather than actual legislation,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas, a Republican. “We’re making progress without legislation.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has also so far expressed no interest in taking Trump on via legislation, according to senators and aides.
Republicans have already made progress with Trump via lobbying. Trump has granted exemptions to Canada and Mexico and Republicans hope he soon goes further and grants similar exceptions for countries like the UK and Australia.
“Senate Republicans overwhelmingly oppose these tariffs, but the question is how do we lessen the impact?” said a senior Republican aide to Politico.
“A bill on the floor that would get a veto would only make things worse with a president who’s never shied away from running against Congress.“