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The Morning Briefing: Tariffs, California, 'Blue Wave,' and Much, Much More

Good Thursday Morning.

Tariffs, tariffs, tariffs.

President Trump is set to sign a tariff plan at 3:30 p.m., but the GOP is uniting against him. On Wednesday, 107 Republicans in the House of Representatives sent a letter to Trump urging him to reconsider. From The Hill's Vicki Needham:

"We are writing to express deep concern about the prospect of broad, global tariffs on aluminum and steel imports," they wrote to the president in the letter first drafted earlier this week.

The lawmakers wrote that "any tariffs that are imposed should be designed to address specific distortions caused by unfair trade practices in a targeted way while minimizing negative consequences on American businesses and consumers."

Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have pushed for Trump to focus his trade ire on China and other nations that engage in unfair practices that hurt U.S. workers instead of slapping across-the-board tariffs on nations following the rules.

“We’re urging the president to tailor these tariffs so American businesses can continue to trade fairly with our partners, sell American-made products to customers all over the world and hire more workers here at home," Brady said.

Otherwise, they argue that Trump's suggested tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum would do broad damage across the U.S. economy just as the tax-cut law is kicking in to boost growth.

“We urge you to reconsider the idea of broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to the U.S. economy and its workers,” the lawmakers wrote.

Politico reported on legislative ways Republicans in Congress could derail Trump's plan.

Added Senate Majority [Whip] John Cornyn (R-Texas): “This is not a real estate transaction. While you could maybe walk away from a real estate transaction, we really can’t walk away from these trade agreements without jeopardizing the economy.”

So desperate are Republicans to stop the president that they're even considering whether they could tie his hands legislatively — though that seems unlikely. There is very little recourse for Congress short of rewriting a 1962 law underpinning U.S. trade policy, which lawmakers are discussing but is no easy slam-dunk, according to a congressional aide working on the matter.

Republicans could also block a three-year renewal of the administration’s Trade Promotion Authority later this year, an extraordinary step given that Republicans voted three years ago to give then-President Barack Obama, a Democrat, such power. Taking it from Trump, the leader of their own party, would be risky and could sour the Hill GOP -White House relationship fast.

“The president’s got to come to us for approval on trade issues and we could do a resolution of disapproval," Cornyn said of the idea. "I think that’s all a little bit premature until he makes his final decision."