The high-stakes trade decisions in Washington do not end there. Trump has also accused Europe of unfair trade practices, and sees tariffs on European cars as one means to address them.
The move would come with its own political risks. Trump’s tariff policy has sparked more backlash from Republicans on Capitol Hill than just about anything the president has done since he took office.
GOP lawmakers have in particular questioned the national security justification the Trump administration used to put duties on steel and aluminum imports last year. A group of lawmakers from both major parties led by Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last week asking him to publish the auto tariff report and answer questions about how he came to his conclusions.
Some GOP senators have already signaled they will oppose auto tariffs if Trump levies them.
“Section 232 is a vital trade remedy tool for genuine national security threats, but misusing it on autos is harmful for Ohio, its economy & auto manufacturing in our state,” Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said in a written statement. “I urge the administration to make public its recent report justifying its rationale in this case.”
Last week, Trump told Fox Business Network that he wants European automakers to build their cars in the U.S. Still, he may not exactly agree with the rationale his administration would use to levy the duties on automobiles.
Asked if he thought car imports threatened national security, the president answered, “Well, no.” He said “what poses a national security risk is our balance sheet,” in reference to trade deficits with the European Union.
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