Chuck Schumer came out against President Trump’s proposed tariffs on Wednesday, signaling that POTUS’ looming free trade push is having a second, unintended consequence: bipartisanship in Congress.
“He has to back off this plan, which doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. Major harm is done to allies like Canada and Europe, not to China,” the Senate Minority Leader told reporters on Capitol Hill Wednesday. “A trade war is not what we want.”
“The president’s instincts to go after China are correct, but the policy he proposes doesn’t fit the bill,” he also stated. “It’s not well-targeted. It’s not precise. And as a result, it could cause a mess of collateral damage that hurts America more than it helps.”
The New York Democrat challenged the Trump administration to “rethink its approach to sweeping tariffs while there is still time and instead focus its attention on China,” echoing statements made by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell earlier in the week. (RELATED: Mitch McConnel Sides With Paul Ryan Against Trump’s Trade War)
WATCH — Trump Makes The Case For New Tariffs:
On Monday, Ryan’s spokeswoman said the Speaker is “extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and [is] urging the White House to not advance with this plan.”
McConnell aligned himself with his House counterpart Tuesday, further explaining that “most Republican senators” have “genuine concern that this not escalate into something much broader.”
“Many of our members are discussing with the administration just how broad, how sweeping this might be.”
Not only do Schumer’s Wednesday comments put him in unfamiliar territory — aligned with Republicans — but they also mark a sharp departure from the trade position he held in late 2017.
In October, the Senate minority leader vowed to block two of Trump’s commerce nominations on the grounds the president had not delivered on tariff promises he had previously made to American metal producers.
“We felt, OK, they’ve got the message,” Schumer said at the time in reference to promises made in Spring 2017 to impose tariffs. “But they’ve just dragged their feet and delayed and delayed.”
“The bottom line is the president has been a total paper tiger on this issue, and as a result, we feel the need to hold up nominees for the Commerce Department.”
Schumer, joined by other Democratic lawmakers, also sent a letter to the Commerce Department ahead of Trump’s trip to China, imploring the administration to impose new tariffs before meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.