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Trump's Own Party Is Plotting to Stop His Trade War With Mexico

Lawmakers are increasingly concerned that Trump's tariffs on Mexican goods would amount to a tax on U.S. consumers and businesses.

by David Gilbert
Jun 4 2019, 11:02am

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Donald Trump spent Monday night tucking into steamed halibut and watercress mousse alongside the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Back in Washington, Republican lawmakers were plotting their biggest standoff with their party’s leader since he was elected.

According to a report by the Washington Post, Republicans were in talks Monday, strategizing to prevent Trump from using executive power to circumvent the will of Congress by imposing tariffs on Mexico.

In February, Trump bypassed Congress to declare immigration at the southern border a national emergency, and is using the purported emergency to justify the tariffs, which are due to come into effect next week. But the law allows Congress to override the national emergency by passing a resolution of disapproval.

Lawmakers passed a similar resolution in March, but Trump vetoed it. This time around, Congress is seeking a veto-proof majority to stop his plans.

GOP lawmakers are increasingly concerned that Trump’s tariffs would amount to a tax on U.S. consumers and businesses.

Trump shocked his own party, as well as business leaders on both sides of the border last week when he announced the new tariffs. From June 10, a duty of 5 percent will be imposed on all Mexican goods. This will rise by 5 percent each month until October, when it will reach 25 percent.

GOP lawmakers are increasingly concerned that Trump’s tariffs would amount to a tax on U.S. consumers and businesses. The tariffs are also likely to blow up the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), Trump’s proposed replacement for NAFTA.

Trump has used trade as a diplomatic bargaining chip throughout his presidency, and the U.S. is currently engaged in a standoff with China over a possible trade deal. He even took time from his state visit to tweet about the dispute with Mexico:

But Mexico is not giving in to Trump’s demands.

Mexican officials warned their U.S. counterparts in Washington this week that they would impose counter tariffs if the U.S. tariffs go into effect, according to NPR.

Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard warned that punitive measures like Trump’s tariffs would only make the situation worse, causing “financial and economic instability” that would limit his government’s ability to deal with the migrant problem.

The U.S. has demanded that Mexico do more to tackle what it sees as a humanitarian crisis at its southern border, as tens of thousands of migrants, mostly from Central America, stream into the country through Mexico every month.

The tariffs are likely to blow up the United States Mexico Canada Agreement, Trump’s proposed replacement for NAFTA.

The Trump administration wants the Mexican government to harden its southern borders with countries like Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

Trump has accused Mexico of doing “nothing” to stop migrants crossing into the U.S., but Ebrard said Mexico remains committed to tackling the issue — and warned that if they were to do “nothing,” up to a quarter of a million migrants would reach the U.S. this year.

Deportations by the Mexican authorities have been climbing significantly in recent months, but the southern border remains wide open for migrants seeking to cross into Mexico.

The administration of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has made it clear it will not militarize its southern border — even if it had the resources to do so — and it has also rejected a suggestion by the White House that it becomes a “safe third country,” which would see migrants apply for asylum in Mexico rather than the U.S.

Some Republicans are waiting until the outcome of a meeting between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Mexican trade officials on Wednesday before deciding on which course of action to take, but many are increasingly concerned about the amount of power Trump wields.

“We have a lot of members who are very concerned, I think, about where this is headed,” Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.), told the Post, adding that “Congress is going to want to probably be heard from.”

Cover: President Donald Trump speaks to the media before departing the White House, Sunday June 2, 2019, in Washington, en route to London. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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