Virginia Republicans Wary Of Tariffs And Potential For Trade War

Mar 8, 2018

President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with steel and aluminum executives in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Thursday, March 1, 2018, in Washington. Trump's announcement that he will impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has upended political alliances on Capitol Hill.
Credit (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Virginia lawmakers are worried that President Trump’s proposal to hike tariffs on steel and aluminum may spark a trade war.

President Trump sent shock waves around the globe and sent the U.S. stock market tumbling downward when he announced his intention to slap tariffs on some foreign products. That didn’t sit well with many lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Unlike past battles with Congress, this time most Republicans are also wary of his plan.

Tidewater-area  Republican Congressman Scott Taylor speaks for many in his party on the issue when he says he wants free trade but he also doesn’t want countries like China dumping cheap steel on the international market.   “I'm concerned. I'm a free trader, but I also want fair trade," Taylor said. "I think he's not wrong to show there's dumping, there's cheating. At the same time, I think we don't want to go too far to where we're creating trade wars and hurting ourselves and our allies.”

Taylor says the surprise announcement hit many foreign leaders in the gut but he’s still waiting to see what comes of it.  “That's probably not the best way to do that, however it may end up getting some movement.”

Republican  Morgan Griffith represents the more industrial, energy producing southwestern part of the Commonwealth. He’s worried about how the proposal could end up increasing prices on his industries. “I don't think that encouraging a trade war is good thing for agriculture or manufacturing in the United States," Griffith said. "We have been letting ourselves be taken advantage of for years, so the President's right to address it. But we have to walk a little softer while carrying the big stick." 

Some lawmakers have explored rescinding the President’s trade authority, but the consensus seems to be that that would set a dangerous precedent for negotiating future trade deals. 

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.