US senators on Thursday blasted the Trump administration’s trade policy and vowed to press ahead with legislation to give Congress a say in decisions on tariffs, Reuters reports.
“I’m very concerned about the president’s trade policies and I think we all should be,” Senator Bob Corker, a Republican, was quoted as saying at a hearing in Washington on tariff policy.
“These actions are hurting our business and farm communities all around the country. They’re damaging our international relationships,” said Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
He was referring to recent moves by President Donald Trump to impose levies on imports of steel and aluminum from close allies including Canada, Mexico and Europe, and plans for some tariffs on automobiles and auto parts.
The administration also is in a trade dispute with China, with Beijing hitting back against Trump’s threats to impose tariffs on hundreds of millions of dollars of Chinese goods.
Several senators said Trump is making it difficult to work with allies to counter China.
“It’s hard to partner up with countries to take on China and isolate China when we’re in a trade war with countries we seek to partner up with,” Senator Marco Rubio said.
Joshua Bolten, head of Business Roundtable, a grouping of corporate CEOs, told the committee that business leaders worry the economic gains from Trump-backed tax reductions and cuts in regulation would be offset by trade policies that will raise prices and cost American jobs.
“Our overriding concern now is that those gains will be entirely reversed by major missteps in US trade policy,” Bolten said.
Lawmakers blasted witness Manisha Singh, assistant secretary of state for business and economic affairs, for what they say is the administration’s failure to spell out a trade strategy and what they called unwarranted attacks on US allies.
Corker and other senators introduced a bipartisan bill last month that would force Trump to obtain Congress’ approval before imposing tariffs on national security grounds.
Corker said he will push for a binding vote “in the near future.”
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