Photo of U.S. Capitol by Liz Ruskin

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she and most of her Republican colleagues are not happy with President Trump’s plan to impose a 5% tariff on all imports from Mexico.

Administration officials met with Republican senators Tuesday to defend the plan. Murkowski said the White House representatives weren’t able to explain how the import tax could be compatible with Trump’s new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

“Do they really think that they can do both?” Murkowski asked. “I think what I took away from the discussion was that it was kind of above their pay grade to reconcile that.”

Trump announced the import tax May 30. He says it will begin June 10 and ramp up to 25% unless Mexico stops the flow of Central American migrants from reaching the U.S. border.

If the Senate majority decides to put it to a vote, Murkowski said she is “not inclined to be supportive” of the tariff, based on her current understanding of the issue. Tariffs, and the import taxes other countries adopt in response, can damage a state’s economy, she said, even a non-farm state like Alaska.

“We’re a state that certainly is seeing the impact on our seafood,” Murkowski said. “There was a lot of concern that, with the tariffs on steel and aluminum, that that would have impact on our infrastructure. So we’re paying very, very close attention to this.”

Quite a few Republican senators have criticized the threatened tariff on Mexico. Based on statements they’ve made to reporters, it appears the Senate could pass a resolution blocking the emergency action. But the president would surely veto it and it’s not clear opponents could muster a two-thirds majority to override the veto.

As for Sen. Dan Sullivan’s position on the tariff, his spokesman said Wednesday the senator “is still reviewing the details.”
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