CEDAR RAPIDS — Although he has expressed concerns with President Donald Trump’s proposal to levy tariffs on Mexican goods coming into the United States, Sen. Chuck Grassley expects the issue to be resolved before the president visits Iowa next week.
He expects negotiations between the two countries to be successful because “I think Mexico knows their economy and our economy are tied together.”
Trump is planning to visit a Council Bluffs ethanol plant Tuesday before attending a Republican Party of Iowa fundraiser in West Des Moines.
“I believe that everything I’ve heard from people who have had conversations with the Mexico Cabinet people who have come up here have found them wanting to get to ‘yes,’ ” Grassley told reporters Wednesday. He is among a number of Republican senators who have expressed resistance to the new tariff, including talk of passing a resolution of disapproval.
The White House didn’t seem as optimistic as the Iowa Republican that the issue will be resolved quickly. Trump said last week he would implement the tariff starting Monday unless Mexico does more to limit illegal immigration. The administration Wednesday downplayed expectations for negotiations to avert the 5 percent tariff on imports from Mexico.
Rather than a new tariff, which could spark a retaliatory tariff by Mexico, Grassley said Iowans are more interested in strengthening trade relations with one of the state’s largest trading partners.
“They want to get the USMCA done. I do, too. It’s my top priority,” he said, referring to the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, the successor to the trade deal known as NAFTA.
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Grassley also downplayed the idea of a resolution disapproving of the tariff. There’s some question whether the president is proposing a new tariff or extending a previous executive order.
“It’s probably going to be something for the parliamentarian to decide” if the situation is not resolved before Monday, Grassley said.
So he doesn’t think the Mexican tariff will be on Iowans’ minds when the president visits.
“My guess is it won’t even be an issue when he comes next week,” Grassley said. “I think that you’re going to find more Iowans interested in what he says about ethanol and our economy generally.”
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