Manu Raju, senior congressional correspondent at CNN, says he can foresee a scenario in which President Donald Trump’s proposed wide-ranging tariffs on Mexico could move forward despite outcry from Senate Republicans.
Trump has proposed rapidly escalating levies against Mexico in an effort to pressure Mexican authorities to ratchet up interior immigration enforcement to slow what has become an overwhelming flood of migrants seeking to enter the United States via the southern border.
Speaking at a WisPolitics.com luncheon in Washington on June 5, Raju said the plan faced stern pushback at a closed-door Senate GOP meeting with administration officials. While Republicans in the Senate have previously expressed concerns with Trump’s actions only to later support the administration’s goals on the floor, Raju said he feels “this is a little bit different.”
Republicans, Raju said, are philosophically opposed to tax increases and made the case that the tariffs would essentially be a tax on consumers. Raju pointed to a confrontation between Sen. Ted Cruz, who has proven to be a Trump ally in the aftermath of the 2016 campaign, and administration officials at the meeting. According to Raju, Cruz said the administration’s proposal would be a $30 billion tax increase on his home state of Texas.
But despite uproar from the Senate GOP conference, Raju said he foresees legislative efforts to block the plan proceeding in a similar fashion to Congress’ attempt to stop the president from unilaterally reappropriating funds to build a wall on the southern border. That led to a resolution of disapproval that passed both chambers but lacked the support to withstand Trump’s veto authority.
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson warned that “this would be a different vote.”
“Tariffs are not real popular in the Republican conference,” Johnson told reporters after the meeting.
But Raju said while the Senate might come close to having a veto-proof majority to block Trump’s action, “the House is a different story.”
“Republicans in the House conference tend to line themselves much more with the president and you have not heard as much outcry from House Republicans,” Raju said.
Raju also predicted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “is not going to bend” on impeachment despite growing calls from her caucus to move forward with proceedings that could remove Trump from office.
Raju said Pelosi was concerned the move would be politically advantageous for the president. Even if the House voted to impeach, Raju said, the proceeding would “die in the Senate,” where a conviction would require support from two-thirds of the body.
“The Senate would exonerate Trump, and Trump would campaign as being exonerated and the Democrats just wasted a year going through a fruitless impeachment proceeding,” Raju said.
But Raju said House Dems are ratcheting up pressure on Pelosi to move forward with an impeachment inquiry as Trump continues to instruct administration officials to defy subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee. Raju noted that defying congressional subpoenas were among the articles of impeachment drafted against President Richard Nixon in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal.
Raju said Dems pushing for impeachment are in the minority in the House at the moment, largely due to Pelosi’s resistance to the move.
“I think she’s going to win. She tends to win these fights,” he said.
Hear audio from the luncheon: