Trump could face new GOP rebuke on Mexico tariffs – POLITICO
President Donald Trump could face yet another disapproval vote in Congress if he moves forward with new tariffs on Mexico, potentially setting up a major clash with Senate Republicans.
Trump has threatened to impose broad, increasing tariffs starting at 5 percent on imports from Mexico to force the U.S.’s southern neighbor to help stem the tide of migrants at the border.
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Officials in both parties as well as trade experts told POLITICO Monday that the president may have to declare a second national emergency in order to invoke trade powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
And just as Congress voted to block Trump’s first national emergency to fund his border wall, lawmakers may be able to vote to overturn any new tariffs that Trump imposes.
The law at issue allows the president to regulate trade to deal with “any unusual or extraordinary threat” to national security that warrants a national emergency. Trump first announced a national emergency in February but did not declare it under that specific statute — which could require him to issue a new national emergency that invokes the IEEPA.
“He does need to declare an emergency in order to act under IEEPA because the earlier emergency declaration involving the US-Mexico border did not reference IEEPA actions. This new declaration of an emergency will allow Congress the opportunity to pass a joint resolution against the declaration of this new emergency,” said Vanessa P. Sciarra, the vice president for legal affairs and trade & investment policy at the National Foreign Trade Council.
A senior administration official argued otherwise. The official said that IEEPA is one of the statutory powers that can be invoked under the existing national emergency, and that administration lawyers have reviewed the matter.
Several Republican aides said that because the White House hasn’t sent official language to the Hill, they were unsure whether a congressional vote to block the tariff increase will be possible.
Such a move would likely originate with House Democrats, who took the first steps to thwart Trump’s first emergency declaration.
And if Congress does take a vote, the result could be a spectacle similar to this winter’s showdown, when 12 Senate Republicans opposed Trump’s national emergency declaration on the southern border to build his wall after he was rebuffed by Congress. That vote was a struggle for many in the Senate GOP, after party leaders failed to head off the conflict with the president by trying to convince him to restrict his executive authority for future emergencies. Ultimately, Republicans fractured, and Congress could not override Trump’s veto.
Given the strong resistance to new tariffs on Mexico, Republican aides said there would likely be a significant number of votes in opposition to a new national emergency declaration, though the party’s preference is clearly to talk Trump out of it.
Senate Republicans spent much of Monday complaining about the president’s new threats to trade with Mexico and said there would likely be more pushback in the coming days to get Trump to change course.
“There are going to be concerns expressed about whether this is the right way to get Mexico’s attention on the border security issue,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) in an interview. “It’s going to not be viewed favorably in my state, for sure.”
Andrew Restuccia, Sabrina Rodriguez, John Bresnahan and Heather Caygle contributed to this report.