McConnell denounces Trump's plan for tariffs on imported aluminum and steel

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally broke his silence Tuesday and denounced President Donald Trump's threa...

Posted: Mar 6, 2018 6:31 PM
Updated: Mar 6, 2018 6:31 PM

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally broke his silence Tuesday and denounced President Donald Trump's threat to place controversial tariffs on imported aluminum and steel, saying he has "genuine concerns" that it could trigger a trade war.

The majority leader's first public comments on the issue -- which has dominated headlines since it was announced Thursday -- came on the heels of a torrent of unusually blunt criticism from other GOP leaders and top committee chairmen, who spoke out against the retaliatory trade move immediately after Trump announced it last Thursday and every day since.

"There is a lot of concern among Republican senators that this could sort of metastasize into a larger trade war," McConnell told reporters when asked at a news conference about the tariffs, which generally are considered against GOP free-trade orthodoxy. "Many of our members are discussing with the administration just how broad, how sweeping this might be, and there is a high level of concern about interfering with what appears to be an economy that is taking off."

Top economic adviser Gary Cohn leaves White House in wake of tariff rift

McConnell also defended the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has vowed to drastically change, saying it has been a "big winner" for his home state of Kentucky.

"I would just say from a Kentucky point of view, NAFTA has been a big winner," McConnell said. "We have benefited from it in every way. So I think the best way to characterize where most Republican senators are right now, including myself, is genuine concern that this not escalate into something much broader."

His staff wouldn't explain why he hadn't spoken out earlier but disputed the notion that he was late to engage in the debate. One aide suggested McConnell's weekly Tuesday news conference was his first opportunity to make his views known, even though the leader has many other forums available to him, including his nearly daily speech on the Senate floor, when he typically talks about matters before Congress and in the news.

McConnell spent much of the past few days -- in the weekly leadership meeting and in Tuesday's closed-door policy lunch -- gathering views from the unsettled members of his conference. He also attempted to get more information on the tariff proposal, which White House officials acknowledge publicly -- and, sources say, repeatedly in private to concerned lawmakers and aides -- remains far from complete or fully fleshed out.

"There's merit to not jumping the gun on this proposal given the guy who sits in the Oval Office," one Republican senator told CNN on Tuesday, noting that Trump can shift and vacillate on policies "depending on the day or who he spoke to last." The senator also pointed to what he called "an active effort" by White House aides opposed to tariffs to work behind the scenes to move the President off his position, one lawmakers have joined in both public statements and in private.

McConnell's caution may stem in part from hope that in the end Trump won't carry out his threat and will find another way to resolve his concerns about unfair trade.

"I think we need to wait and see what the White House finally decides to do on this," the majority leader said.

McConnell has a reputation as a disciplined politician who may prefer quieter, backdoor efforts to change Trump's mind instead of engaging in an open spat with the President, famous for his Twitter tirades. The senator's aides wouldn't specify what he's been doing to counter Trump's efforts but suggested he's done more behind the scenes than has been visible publicly.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 22947

Reported Deaths: 977
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin7695581
Ramsey2698110
Stearns199512
Nobles14963
Anoka128963
Dakota120249
Olmsted58210
Washington57630
Kandiyohi4761
Rice4232
Clay41625
Scott3832
Todd2960
Wright2801
Mower2311
Sherburne2222
Carver1892
Benton1733
Steele1490
Blue Earth1261
Martin1265
St. Louis11714
Freeborn1020
Unassigned9410
Pine890
Nicollet827
Winona7815
Carlton730
Cottonwood690
Watonwan640
Otter Tail630
Goodhue603
Polk592
Crow Wing591
Chisago541
Itasca548
Dodge460
Le Sueur441
Meeker440
Chippewa441
Morrison410
Jackson390
Douglas390
Lyon380
Murray360
Becker360
Isanti320
McLeod300
Waseca250
Rock220
Mille Lacs191
Wabasha170
Fillmore171
Pennington170
Swift170
Sibley150
Beltrami140
Brown142
Cass132
Faribault130
Wilkin113
Norman110
Kanabec111
Pipestone100
Marshall90
Wadena80
Pope80
Aitkin70
Koochiching70
Yellow Medicine60
Lincoln50
Mahnomen51
Renville50
Big Stone40
Red Lake40
Redwood40
Clearwater30
Traverse30
Lac qui Parle30
Grant30
Houston20
Roseau20
Hubbard10
Lake10
Kittson10
Stevens10

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 18559

Reported Deaths: 506
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk3930118
Woodbury267232
Black Hawk172443
Linn94176
Marshall88215
Dallas87517
Buena Vista7020
Johnson6078
Muscatine54941
Wapello5456
Crawford4892
Tama40026
Scott35210
Louisa34210
Dubuque33418
Jasper25816
Pottawattamie2348
Sioux2130
Washington1858
Wright1450
Allamakee1204
Plymouth1191
Warren1160
Story991
Mahaska918
Poweshiek898
Bremer676
Henry671
Clinton601
Des Moines591
Boone570
Taylor490
Guthrie463
Cedar461
Clarke450
Benton391
Monroe385
Jones360
Iowa350
Shelby340
Clayton323
Osceola320
Buchanan320
Webster321
Marion310
Hamilton290
Madison271
Fayette260
Cerro Gordo251
Monona240
Cherokee240
Lee240
Winneshiek230
Davis200
Grundy190
Lyon190
Jefferson190
Harrison190
Floyd181
Sac170
Dickinson160
Mills160
Hardin160
Hancock160
Humboldt150
Butler150
Delaware150
Appanoose143
Ida140
Keokuk140
Greene130
Clay130
Howard120
Audubon121
Emmet120
Lucas120
Cass110
Jackson110
Page110
Winnebago110
Franklin100
Pocahontas100
Carroll90
Van Buren90
Kossuth90
Chickasaw80
Adair80
Union70
Adams70
Montgomery60
Mitchell50
Ringgold40
Fremont40
Palo Alto30
Worth30
Calhoun20
Wayne10
Decatur10
Unassigned10
Rochester
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 59°
Mason City
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 60°
Albert Lea
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 63°
Austin
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 63°
Charles City
Clear
61° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 61°
Lingering showers Thursday AM will turn to sunshine by the afternoon
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Sean Weather 5/28 2

Image

Churches prepare to allow hundreds in doors

Image

Sean Weather 5/28

Image

Destination Medical Center boosting Rochester Recovery

Image

Protests at Henneppin County Government Center

Image

Rochester reacts to Minneapolis situation

Image

Unemployment numbers in Rochester

Image

DMC's five year plan and COVID-19

Image

Salvation Army Needs Hygiene Products

Image

Giving Back To Essential Workers

Community Events