Sen. Hatch pushes back on Trump's move to hike tariffs on steel, aluminum imports

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, looks on during a visit to Utah Senate Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. Utah's Legislature unanimously passed a resolution Wednesday honoring retiring Hatch. The resolution declared the day "Orrin G. Hatch Day" in honor of Hatch and his 40-plus years in the U.S. Senate. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Washington • Sen. Orrin Hatch, who has been a staunch supporter of President Donald Trump, sharply criticized the president on Thursday after he announced new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Trump said he would add a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and a 10 percent hike on aluminum coming into the United States, a move that is likely to prompt a rebuke from America’s trading partners.

We have with us the biggest steel companies in the United States,” Trump said Thursday. “They used to be a lot bigger, but they’re going to be a lot bigger again.”

Hatch, chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade deals, had warned the Trump administration earlier in the week about raising tariffs. On Thursday, Hatch said he was disappointed.

Tariffs on steel and aluminum are a tax hike the American people don’t need and can’t afford,” Hatch said after Trump’s announcement. “I encourage the president to carefully consider all of the implications of raising the cost of steel and aluminum on American manufacturers and consumers.”

Trump says U.S. steel and aluminum companies have been “very unfairly treated by bad policy” by other countries and that’s hurt workers in America. The tariffs, he said, would level the playing field.

Hatch, in comments to the U.S Chamber of Commerce earlier this week, said that it was important to “combat” unfair trade practices by other countries but America should tread lightly.

The tactics we choose must be targeted directly at specific countries and specific practices,” he said, adding that “tariffs aren’t paid by foreigners.

“Tariffs are taxes paid by American businesses and American families, and new tariffs would jeopardize some of the opportunities we successfully created through tax reform,” Hatch said.

The Utah Republican has praised Trump, even going as far as saying he could be one of America’s best presidents ever, and supported policy initiatives from the White House.