Trump set to sign tariffs order amid Republican dissent

After a week of hints and uncertainty, President Donald Trump said Thursday he would announce tariffs on imported steel and aluminum but with temporary exemptions for Canada and Mexico as he seeks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement. Ryan told Home Depot Inc. employees how they and their company will be helped by the tax cuts passed past year.

In the case of these tariffs, the Republican leader used a 1962 law authorizing the president to tax certain imports in the name of national security protection - legislation rarely invoked in the past except in the notable case of oil.

McConnell said that he and other senators are "concerned about the scope of the proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum". Trade is now the issue that has driven the most distance between Ryan and the president he reluctantly endorsed during the campaign. The president said US political leaders preceding him had allowed the decline of manufacturing in the nation, and cited a protectionist predecessor, President William McKinley, in defense of the tariffs.

Trump said he was "defending America's national security" by imposing the tariffs. "Thriving communities turned into ghost towns", Trump said in front of a group of workers before signing the tariff proclamations. "Our factories were left to rot and to rust all over the place", Trump said.

Another law grants extensive powers to the president to negotiate trade agreements, allowing some 15 accords to be struck since 1979.

Whatever Washington lawmakers opt to do, they will have to reach a two-thirds majority vote to overcome a presidential veto - forcing Republicans to find support among the Democratic opposition, a challenge in its own right.

All 435 seats in the House will be on ballots.

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Even if there is an initial victory from a friendly court to stay Trump's tariffs, a case would face hard appeals, according to Mark Warner, a Toronto-based trade lawyer with MAAW Law who practices in the USA and Canada.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have spoken out against the tariffs.

In the Senate, Republicans are opposing the duties en masse, with Senator Jeff Flake already preparing a bill to "nullify these tariffs".

"Trade wars are not won, they are only lost", he said in a statement. He said he plans legislation that would nullify them.

"This isn't just bad for farmers and ranchers in Nebraska who need to buy a new tractor, it's also bad for the moms and dads who will lose their manufacturing jobs because fewer people can buy a more expensive product", he said.

The White House, however, held out the possibility of exemption or delayed execution of the order for some countries, notably neighbours Canada and Mexico with which the United States has been engaged in talks aimed at a revamp of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that Trump has been insisting upon.

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