Republicans take little action to stop Trump tariff trade war with China

As Trump has showed his opposition to the Corker proposal, it has gone nowhere in Congress. The top Republican in both the Senate and House have cast doubts on whether they will take up or pass a bill to check Trump’s ability to impose tariffs.

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the legislation an “exercise in futility” because of the likely veto. House Speaker Paul Ryan also said last month that he doubted the bill would overcome the president’s opposition.

Countries retaliating against Trump’s tariffs have targeted industries important to McConnell’s and Ryan’s home states of Kentucky and Wisconsin, respectively. Louisville, Kentucky-based Brown-Forman, the maker of Jack Daniel’s whiskey, said it will raise prices on some products in Europe in response to EU tariffs. Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson also announced it will move production of EU-bound motorcycles overseas in response to the duties.

On Wednesday, Ryan told reporters that tariffs are not the “right way to go” to target alleged intellectual property theft by Chinese companies. Still, he said he does not want to “hamstring the president’s negotiating tactics” such as duties that Trump is using to force trading partners to change their behavior.

Despite mounting congressional criticism, the White House appears intent on plowing ahead with tariffs. Trump aims to deter what he calls unfair tactics by major trading partners, arguing the duties will help to fix imbalances and protect American jobs.

The president won the White House in 2016 partly on pledges to fix trade deals that he says punish U.S. workers. Many lawmakers from both parties agree with his push to revise trade deals — although some of those members of Congress have said his tariff actions have gone too far.

On Wednesday, the president defended his trade policy again. As he met with North Atlantic Treaty Organization members in Brussels, he tweeted that he is “always thinking about our farmers.”

“I am fighting for a level playing field for our farmers, and will win!” he tweeted from Belgium.

Trump says duties imposed by foreign nations punished the American agricultural industry. However, farmers have raised concerns that recent retaliatory tariffs on products such as soybeans will harm their businesses.

The president’s tweet came as soybean prices hovered near a 10-year low.

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