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Ryan Trying to Steer Administration Away from Tariff 'Collateral Damage'

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said today that he's pushing back on President Trump's plan to slap a sweeping 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, telling reporters on Capitol Hill that he's trying to persuade the administration to take more "surgical" action.

"There is clearly abuse occurring. Clearly there is overcapacity, dumping and transshipping of steel and aluminum by some countries, particularly China. But I think the smarter way to go is to make it more surgical or more targeted. So I think 232 is a little too broad, and I think it's more prone to retaliation," he said, referring to Section 232, a 1962 law that allows executive action on tariffs in cases of national security.

"And so, what we are encouraging the administration to do is to focus on what is clearly a legitimate problem and to be more surgical in its approach, so we can go after the true abusers without creating any, kind of, unintended consequences or collateral damage," he added.

Ryan said he's "not watching the gyrations of the market" with Trump's announcement, but is trying to "make sure we have good economic policy."

"And just to repeat what I said, we think the smart approach, the best approach -- and the president's right to point out that there are abuses. There clearly is dumping and transshipping of steel and aluminum. That's absolutely happening. There's a big overcapacity problem. Let's go focus on that. Let's go focus on the abusers of that," he said.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is "running point" on "working on some solutions with the administration."

"Those talks are ongoing and I'm encouraged that hopefully we can get to a good place," Ryan said.

After a meeting with White House chief of staff John Kelly today, Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) simply said he was "hopeful that the measures imposed will be balanced and implement a targeted approach that reflects the degree to which individual countries have violated international rules and thereby protect essential global supply chains with key U.S. allies.”

Ryan said at his news conference that since "the economy's doing very well" lawmakers "want to make sure that every step we take helps the economy."

He wouldn't elaborate on his conversations with Trump about the tariffs. "We've had multiple conversations about this. He knows our view," Ryan added. "Every now and then we're just going to have a different approach on how we should tackle these problems."