U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner sent a letter Friday to Senate colleagues, staking out a stronger position regarding the tariffs on Mexican imports that President Trump has proposed.
In the letter, obtained by Politico, Gardner warns that the tariffs will take money out of American wallets and "undermine the pro-growth tax and regulatory reforms at the heart of our economic boom."
He cited a recent study by the business-friendly Tax Foundation, as reported by the New York Times earlier this week, that said that tariffs on China, Mexico and other countries would wipe out any gains from the 2017 tax cuts passed by Congress.
Gardner said in his letter that the impact of the tariffs "will be concentrated at the lowest rungs of American income earners."
He said, citing the Tax Foundation report, that "the net effect" of the 2017 tax reform legislation and proposed tariffs on Mexico, China and other nations would be a 1.1% tax increase for the lowest 20% of income earners and a 0.3% increase for middle-class Americans.
"Hardworking Americans are unlikely to overlook the hit to their pocket books," Gardner wrote, and harder for Republicans, including the president, to claim they are cutting taxes for the middle class.
"I am all for fair trade," Gardner continued. "I am all for securing the border. But I am not for turning our backs on American workers and consumers."
However, Gardner stopped short of suggesting what action the Senate could take, which others have said could include a joint resolution by Congress that would attempt to rein in the president's authority to use the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to impose the tariffs.
Trump used the IEEPA to declare a national emergency that would allow him to enact tariffs on Mexican imports.
Without a deal between the United States and Mexico about Central American immigration, those tariffs on Mexican imports would start at 5% on Monday and increase by 5% per month until reaching 25%, Trump has proposed.
Politico reported that "several Republican senators are warning the president they would vote to overturn the new levies, though Gardner has not explicitly said he would go that far."
Colorado Democrats have been making hay out of Gardner's initial response on the tariffs.
Colorado Democratic Party spokesperson Alyssa Roberts said this in a statement Friday:
"First Cory Gardner voted for a massive giveaway to corporations and the wealthy, and now he's trying to use that disastrous tax bill to justify his supposed opposition to President Trump’s tariff on Mexico. Colorado will see right through this: Gardner is trying to have it both ways, tip-toeing around an issue that could devastate our economy to avoid upsetting the man he has endorsed for reelection. If Gardner won’t even push the Senate to take a vote on the president’s reckless tariff, how can Coloradans trust that he won’t cave just like he did on Trump’s first costly and ineffective national emergency?”
On Friday, Trump said via a Tweet that there was a "good chance" that a deal could be struck between the two countries, although the Washington Post reported that administration officials said they would file a legal notification regarding the tariffs on Friday.
The Post said that Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, characterized the negotiations as still having a "long way to go." However, if the negotiations proceed well over the weekend, "the president can turn off" the imposition of those tariffs.