The Senate’s top Republican said Thursday that President Trump’s new tariffs on Mexico are a mistake, saying the White House is bungling complex economic relationships in its zeal for force action on immigration.
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, president pro tempore of the Senate and chairman of the Finance Committee, also questioned whether Mr. Trump had the legal authority to impose the tariffs.
“Trade policy and border security are separate issues. This is a misuse of presidential tariff authority and counter to congressional intent,” he said.
The Iowa senator said he supports Mr. Trump’s aims. Indeed, Mr. Grassley has long been one of the staunchest supporters of a get-tough policy on illegal immigration, after having voted for — and later regretted — the 1986 amnesty.
Mr. Trump’s latest move will impose a 5% tariff on all goods imported from Mexico beginning June 10, should Mexico fail to take steps to cut the flow of illegal immigrants from Central America traversing its territory en route to the U.S.
The tariffs will be increased monthly thereafter, until they hit 25%.
Mr. Trump says he has powers under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
Mr. Grassley said there are other options the president should seek that would do less harm to the American economy, such as slapping a fee on the remittances Mexicans in the U.S. send back home our of their earnings here.
Mexico saw more than $30 billion in remittances paid into the country in 2017, according to World Bank statistics, with most of that coming from the U.S.