Senate Republicans acknowledge that the president’s latest tariff increase on Chinese imports are harming farm state economies, their own constituents and some of Trump’s most reliable voters. But there’s no plan to stop, or even threaten, the president’s tariff regime — just the latest example of Trump imposing his protectionist will on a party that once celebrated free trade.
As the stock market tanked on Monday following the escalating conflict with China, Republicans lamented the state of affairs. But after trying, unsuccessfully, to get the president to remove his year-old tariffs on U.S. allies, there’s little appetite for opening a new front with Trump when it comes to China.
So the GOP on Monday stuck to the same message: The tariffs are bad, but at least this time, Trump is taking on China — and not on Canada or Mexico.
“They can feel it. The farm community up ‘til now has really supported the president without flinching. But eventually you flinch,” said Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, the No. 4 GOP leader whose state is a major soybean producer. Yet he concluded: “If you’re going to have a trade fight, the trade fight to have would be the China fight.”