WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal on Wednesday criticized President Donald Trump for threatening to ramp up tariffs against Mexico, which is Connecticut’s fifth largest trading partner.
The two Connecticut Democrats say they have heard from businesses in Connecticut who say imposing tariffs on Mexico would hurt the state — raising prices for state businesses and consumers who purchase goods and materials from Mexico. Connecticut does about $3.5 billion worth of business with Mexico — exporting $1 billion and importing $2.5 billion in 2017, according to data compiled by Naftamexico.net.
“The impact on Connecticut will eventually be catastrophic,” Blumenthal said. “I’m hearing from businesses there as recently as this morning. There are a number of major corporations that are baffled, frustrated and angry.”
“Nobody in Connecticut is interested in paying more for consumer goods just because the President can’t get his border wall,” Murphy said. “I won’t support these tariffs and I think it’s most likely they never get put into practice. President Trump says a million things that aren’t true every single day and this is probably just another one of those things that isn’t true.”
Trump has threatened to impose a 5% tariff on Mexican goods starting next week, with the tariffs ratcheting up to 25% in the weeks ahead until a deal is reached with the Mexican government to stem the flow of migrants crossing the southern border. Mexican officials were set to meet with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday to discuss the border issue.
A day earlier in London, Trump indicated that he expected the tariffs would be imposed next week while talks continue. “I think it’s more likely that the tariffs go on, and we’ll probably be talking during the time that the tariffs are on, and they’re going to be paid,” he said.
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell noted that the tariffs are not popular within his caucus. He plans to wait and see if they are imposed before taking any legislative action. He indicated that a resolution of disapproval could be taken up next week. Trump has said such an effort to block the tariffs would be “foolish.”
Blumenthal predicted that Trump will “struggle to find a face-saving way out of it” because imposing such unpopular tariffs would be a costly for the economy and, in turn, for Republicans.
Murphy also does not expect the tariffs will be imposed for similar reasons. He noted that a Senate vote on a resolution of disapproval could produce a lopsided loss for Trump — something that he is not fond of.
“For whatever reason, this one (Mexican tariffs) has broken the back of Republicans in the Senate. And, you know, there is a mandatory vote that has to happen on this. If the President is going to lose that vote by a wide margin, then maybe he thinks that he doesn’t like losing votes in the Senate and he withdraws the idea,” Murphy said.