The competing economic instincts that are dividing Trump from the rest of his Republican Party were on full display Thursday. Joe Manchin said, "It's past time to defend our interests, our security and our workers in the global economy, and that is exactly what the president is proposing with these tariffs". Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan's spokeswoman, Ashlee Strong, said on Monday in a statement, "We are extremely anxious about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan".
Ryan said he would continue to urge the president to focus the tariffs only on countries that violate trade law, like China.
"We're going to be very fair, we're going to be very flexible but we're going to protect the American worker as I said I would do in my campaign", Trump said during a Cabinet meeting.
In Pennsylvania, both the Republican and Democratic candidate running in next week's House special election endorsed the broad outlines of the president's approach on tariffs during a recent debate. Trade is now the issue that has driven the most distance between Ryan and the president he reluctantly endorsed during the campaign.
There will nearly certainly be broad legal challenges of the Trump administration claim that protecting US steel and aluminum producers is necessary for national security, John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican senator, said Friday.
President Donald Trump announced new tariffs on steel and aluminum on Thursday. He excluded Mexico and Canada from the tariffs, following pressure from fellow Republicans to get him to reconsider, but still pressed ahead with the tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum.
Johnson said he expected Trump's action, which takes effect in 15 days, to be challenged in court. Executives at companies that use the metals to build their products, including automakers and other manufacturing companies, have expressed a desire to meet with Trump to head off the tariffs. The president said USA political leaders preceding him had allowed the decline of manufacturing in the nation, and cited a protectionist predecessor, President William McKinley, in defense of the tariffs.
"Our factories were left to rot, and to rust all over the place". An analysis by Brookings Institution a year ago showed that areas that voted for Trump are more dependent on exports, which foreign countries could target in retaliation.
House Speaker Paul Ryan released a statement following the tariff announcement that included no mention of any legislative effort or remedy.
Notably, no Republican lawmakers attended the White House event.
All 435 seats in the House will be on ballots.
Economic analysts warn that a trade dispute sparked by the tariffs could damage communities that backed the president in 2016.
In the Senate, Republicans are opposing the duties en masse, with Senator Jeff Flake already preparing a bill to "nullify these tariffs". He said he plans legislation that would nullify them. Both said they are continuing to lobby the president to change course.
Trump invited the workers to speak.