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GOP Divide Grows on Trump's Proposed Mexico Tariffs

06-05-2019
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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks to reporters following the weekly policy lunches on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaks to reporters following the weekly policy lunches on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON - Vice President Mike Pence met with Mexican government officials Wednesday in a last ditch effort to get help from the country in securing the southern border – or face tariffs on their goods.

But in a rare rebuke to the administration, many Senate Republicans are voicing their strong opposition to the proposed 5% increase on Mexican goods set to take effect Monday.

"We're not fans of tariffs, we're still hoping this could be avoided," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday.

Trump's proposed tariffs will increase by 5% increments and could get as high as 25% until Mexico agrees to help the US crackdown on drug cartels and illegal crossings at the southern border. As of now, the president doesn't seem too worried about pushback from his own party. 

"I don't think they will do that, I think if they did it's foolish. There's nothing more important than borders," President Trump said during a press conference this week. 

But Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) tells CBN News if the House and Senate vote to block the tariffs and the president vetoes it, there might be enough support to override the veto. 

"A veto might be overridden, that's my sense," Braun said. "I hope he finds another way and that this is just a signal to Mexico start doing something."

Rep. Michael Cloud (R-TX) agrees with Trump that Mexico needs to step up and help the US at the southern border.

"There's a number of things Mexico could do to be participating with this problem," Cloud explained to CBN News. "Cartels have such an entrenched position in their country and they've allowed it to fester into a cancer and we'd be happy to partner with them in helping solve that problem" 

And Cloud argues some good just might come from the president's threat.

"The president threw out the idea of imposing tariffs and it got Mexico on the plane the next day," he explained.  "I think it's a negotiating strategy, we'll see, but the goal is to get Mexico to act." 

Sen. Braun agrees – telling CBN News, "I think it's refreshing to see there's a new dynamic where we won't just keep kicking everything down the road."

But he hopes that the tariffs never take effect.

"I would hate to see it put in peril the replacement for NAFTA," Braun noted. "I think they also could have the effect of impacting the economy and that's the strongest thing that we have to talk about to get President Trump re-elected."

Despite Senate GOP opposition to the tariffs they believe are a tax on American consumers – the party's still united in supporting the president on border security. 

"President Trump is 100% right in what we need to do at the border," Braun continued.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is breaking with Senate Republican leadership - acknowledging in a tweet he doesn't like tariffs but "what alternative do my GOP colleagues have to get #mexico to secure its southern border."

And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is encouraging his caucus to support the President as he negotiates.

"End of the day we should support the president so we can get an agreement so we don't have tariffs. Them talking about not supporting him undercuts his ability to do that," McCarthy told reporters Wednesday. "What I think, is we should - we should empower the president to be able to have a strong hand in negotiations." 

"You don't hear anybody in Mexico, undercutting there at the same time," he added.  "We should be united so there won't be tariffs and have a strong hand in that negotiation."

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