House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) said today he is worried that President Trump's plans to broadly tax imported steel and aluminum will hurt the U.S. defense industrial base, antagonize longtime allies and assist geopolitical adversaries like Russia and China.
“Tariffs are a bad idea,” he told reporters on Capitol Hill. “It will increase the cost of building ships and airplanes. What I worry most about, however, are the geostrategic implications. If we make it more difficult for allies to work with us, to trade with us, then we are promoting China's and Russia's best interests as they try to undercut us.”
Trump is expected to finalize the tariff policy some time this week, despite the fact the Defense Department has warned the White House that it could “impair” national security.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and others in the GOP have publicly opposed the tariffs as well.
Thornberry, who oversees the House version of the defense authorization bill, said his committee is limited in its ability to impact trade policy.
“Trade is not something this committee can directly affect, but what we can do is try to understand the implications of it,” he said. “We are hurting ourselves by picking trade fights and economic fights with others.”