June 14,2019

WSJ: Iowa Senator Defends His Constituents Who Have Been Hurt By Tariffs

Republican Sen. Grassley Challenges Trump on Some Trade Policies
Iowa Senator Defends His Constituents—Corn and Soybean Farmers—Who Have Been Hurt By Tariffs
By William Mauldin
Wall Street Journal
June 14, 2019
Few sectors of the American economy have been hit as hard by the U.S.-China trade conflict as the corn and soybean farmers whom Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley counts among his Iowa constituents.
That is one reason Mr. Grassley, one of the senior Republicans in Congress, has taken on more of an adversarial role when it comes to President Trump’s trade policies.

Mr. Grassley raised his voice with the president during a tense meeting in the Roosevelt Room along with other Republican lawmakers over steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico.
The tension was prompted in part, Mr. Grassley said, by an opinion piece he wrote for The Wall Street Journal in April. The senator argued that Mr. Trump wouldn’t be able to win Senate approval of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, unless he first lifted the tariffs.
“I wasn’t mad at the president,” Mr. Grassley said, but he added that Mr. Trump did appear to be angry over his Journal opinion piece.
Shortly after the meeting, Mr. Trump agreed to lift the steel and aluminum tariffs—an action that White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow partly credits to Mr. Grassley’s influence.
“He will raise his voice to make a point,” Mr. Kudlow said of the senator.
With USMCA facing resistance from Democrats, Mr. Trump is counting on solid support from Republicans such as Mr. Grassley to ensure the deal is ratified.
Mr. Grassley and American companies caught in the crosshairs argue that a trade law known as Section 232 improperly gives presidents too much power over tariffs, which the Constitution delegates to the Congress.
Along with Sen. Pat Roberts (R., Kansas) and other farm-state senators, Mr. Grassley has met Mr. Trump regularly to talk trade for a year and a half. In early 2018, he and other senators say they helped persuade the president to stick with negotiations to replace Nafta rather than pulling out of the agreement, which would have hurt Midwestern farmers.
[Grassley] took over Mr. Hatch’s role as chairman of the Finance Committee, giving him leverage over consideration of the USMCA deal with Mexico and Canada, as well as a key role crafting legislation that would rein in presidential tariff powers.
While Mr. Hatch rarely held news briefings and largely avoided criticism of the Republican administration, Mr. Grassley regularly hosts calls and meetings with reporters on farm policy and the administration’s trade tactics.
“They can think whatever they want to,” Mr. Grassley said. “Capitalism and free trade has reduced poverty around the world, and that’s to America’s benefit,” he said.