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Americans Support Trump’s China Tariffs. So Why Are GOP Senators Trying To Tear Them Down?

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  • Polling indicates Americans want to continue retaliating against China with tariffs, but most GOP senators are attempting to roll them back in a bill meant to increase U.S. competitiveness against the communist power.
  • “It basically undermines the entire of U.S. trade policy, especially when it comes to China,” Nick Iacovella, senior vice president, Public Affairs & Communications for Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA), told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
  • “For decades, Congress cut tariffs without much thought. But we cannot continue to do that when it comes to products made in China,” Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida told the DCNF in a statement.

As GOP senators seek to roll back former President Donald Trump’s tariffs on China now that he’s out of office, polling indicates Americans want to keep the harsh policies in place.

“For decades, Congress cut tariffs without much thought. But we cannot continue to do that when it comes to products made in China,” Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement. “We should do everything possible to move supply chains out of China, but this so-called ‘China bill’ is actually subsidizing manufacturing in Communist China. It’s ridiculous.”

A new Morning Consult poll released Friday found that 73% of American voters support the U.S. government’s use of trade remedies against China, including 71% of Democrats, 70% of Independents and 76% of Republicans.

It also found that 71% of voters support continuing to issue Section 301, a part of the Trade Act of 1974 that gives the president the power to retaliate against countries engaged in unfair trade practices, tariffs on China.

Roughly 9-in-10 Americans considered China to be an enemy of the U.S. in a 2021 Pew Research Group poll, while more Americans fear China’s influence over Russia’s, according to a February poll from AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The Senate, whose version of the bill passed in March, will have to negotiate with the House, whose version passed in February. The House version includes protectionist trade provisions meant to make the U.S. more competitive with China, but most Republican senators vehemently oppose their inclusion, Politico reported Friday.

Only four senators, Republican Sens. Josh Hawley of Missouri, Rubio and Tom Cotton of Arkansas, as well as Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, voted against the trade provisions in the Senate bill.

The majority of Senate Republicans are standing firm behind the America COMPETES Act, which includes trade provisions that rolls back the tariffs put in place under the Trump administration. The trade provisions were added to the bill after a push by Republican Sens. Mike Crapo of Idaho, who is the Senate Finance Committee ranking member, and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

“It basically undermines the entire of U.S. trade policy, especially when it comes to China,” Nick Iacovella, senior vice president, Public Affairs & Communications for Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA), for which Morning Consult conducted the poll, told the DCNF. “It totally dismantles our tariffs on China.”

Iacovella, who compared the push for the inclusion of the trade provisions to “economic treason,” said one of the biggest issues was the weakening of Section 301.

“It completely wrecks Section 301,” Iacovella said. “If you’re trying to help the CCP in its effort to displace American leadership economically, our national security, our ability to innovate in critical industries, you love the Senate trade title.”

None of the three Republican senators who voted against the trade provisions were selected for the conference committee that will merge the two bills, Politico reported.

Trade Representative Katherine Tai said in October that the Biden administration planned to “build on” the Section 301 tariffs implemented by former President Donald Trump, as they “had the effect of getting a lot of people’s attention.”

“In that sense, I would say that the 301 tariffs are a tool for creating the kind of effective policies, and [are] something for us to build on and to use in terms of defending to the hilt the interests of the American economy, the American worker and American businesses and our farmers, too,” she said.

“[Biden’s] left in place a lot of the Trump policies that are tough on China,” Iacovella told the DCNF. “He could have completely gone the other way.”

The Morning Consult poll was conducted among 2005 registered voters between March 29-31 with a 2% margin of error.

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