WASHINGTON — Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., approve of President Donald Trump’s proclamation on imported steel and aluminum, as some Republicans criticize the president’s decision for the possible effects on the country’s trade relationships.
Trump signed two proclamations Thursday to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum from other countries. The proclamations exempt Canada and Mexico.
“Historically, trade deals have not been good for our state of West Virginia. Foreign countries have benefited and grown, at the expense of our state’s economy and hard-working West Virginians,” Manchin said in a statement. “As big, multilateral trade agreements have been ratified and Wall Street and big corporations line their pockets, we’ve seen jobs pour out of West Virginia for cheaper labor markets in foreign countries.”
Manchin said it was past time to defend the country’s economic interests, and Trump made the decision with workers and national security in mind.
“When we have a level playing field, West Virginia workers will win every time. We will out work, out innovate and outcompete anyone in the world, but we can’t win when the deck is stacked against us,” he said.
Capito said steel and aluminum industries need protection from international competition because of declining production in the United States, adding it is important for the president to consider the effects of such trade policies going forward.
“Protecting American workers and our vital steel and aluminum industries is important to our economy and our national security, and I am glad to see President Trump working to do that,” she said in a statement. “At the same time, it is important to consider the possible effects of any tariff on all West Virginia workers and employers to make sure that our trade policies are geared toward growing our economy and protecting jobs.”
Some Republicans, including Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, have gone after Trump, saying the tariffs are actions that threaten economic growth. Flake, who has fueded with Trump in the past, said in a press release Thursday he plans to introduce legislation to revoke the tariffs.
“Trade wars are not won, they are only lost. Congress cannot be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster,” Flake said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said he is concerned about the “unintended consequences” of the tariffs and asked the president to narrow the policy to countries violating trade law.
Leaders of China, Japan, South Korea and the European Union have criticized the tariffs, with European Union representatives suggesting multiple American products that could be subject to tariffs.