Rebuking Trump can be risky — so Republicans take to congressional hearings to berate administration officials on trade


WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 24: U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin testifies during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing concerning the Trump administration's fiscal year 2018 budget proposals, on Capitol Hill, May 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Trump is proposing to cut $3.6 trillion in federal spending over the next 10 years while increasing spending on defense and border security. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Republicans are by and large against the trade policies that President Donald Trump has implemented over the past several months, worrying they will hurt economic gains.
But in a new era in which enraging the president can be politically dangerous, GOP lawmakers have taken to congressional committee hearings with White House officials to berate them and air their grievances.
But utilizing legislative power to rein in executive authority on trade is at a standstill in Congress.

WASHINGTON — A new theme is developing on Capitol Hill.

In an era in which swearing fealty to President Donald Trump is a nonnegotiable requirement in the GOP, Republican members of Congress are utilizing routine committee hearings to take out their frustrations with the administration’s trade policies.

When certain administration officials testify before Congress, lawmakers seize on the opportunity to berate the cabinet for Trump’s direct break with decades of Republican orthodoxy on trade policy.

During a hearing for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s annual testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, Republicans regularly brought up the negative effects the administration’s tariffs are having on their constituents and how they are stifling progress with the administration’s economic agenda.

“With respect to reciprocal trade agreements, just because other nations punish their consumers with tariffs, doesn’t mean we should necessarily follow suit,” Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling told Mnuchin. “Because at the end of the day, a tariff is a tax — a tax that is usually passed on to the consumer.”

Hensarling was hardly the only one to express dissatisfaction with the Trump administration’s trade policies targeting steel and aluminum, which have been met with swift retaliations from Mexican, Canadian, and European trading partners.

Later in the hearing, Mnuchin said he “couldn’t be happier with the economic plan we’re on.”

Across the Capitol on Tuesday, a similar hearing was taking place, where the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations tore into Manisha Singh, the State Department’s assistant secretary for the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

“Madame Secretary, the last time you and I were together I was speaking in favor of you to be confirmed by the United States Senate in your current position,” said Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. “I’m glad that you’re in the position. I’m sorry you gotta sell the program you’re selling today.”

‘Where’s the beef?’

Isakson then noted the 1980s catchphrase for the Wendy’s burger chain known as “Where’s the beef?” to criticize the administration’s trade strategy.

“Because that commercial, that’s the power of a good point and a good plan,” he said. “It is pretty apparent that we don’t have a state plan from a marketing or business standpoint.”

It was not the first time tariffs were a primary focus of Republicans in similar settings. Last month, when Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appeared in front of the Senate Finance Committee, he had to bear the brunt of Republicans’ biggest frustrations.

“These tariffs do not support U.S. national security,” said the committee’s chairman, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. “Instead, they harm American manufacturers, damage our economy, hurt American consumers and disrupt our relationship with long-term allies while giving …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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