Handel breaks with Trump on tariffs

U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell. Curtis Compton, ccompton@ajc.com

U.S. Rep. Karen Handel on Thursday criticized the White House’s move to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe, Mexico and Canada, saying it would “dampen” recent economic gains.

The Roswell Republican said the European and North American countries were important U.S. allies and urged the Trump administration to reconsider its new duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, which are set to go into effect Friday.

“Today’s actions — and the inevitable retaliatory moves by these countries — will hurt working Americans, negatively affect our economy, and do not further the goal of fostering more equitable trade,” she said in a written statement.

Handel's stance is not all that different from many of her Republican colleagues, including Georgia U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson, but her reaction is notable because it's the first time she's publicly broken from President Donald Trump since winning last year's 6th District special election.

Handel, who has made selling the GOP tax overhaul a centerpiece of her reelection campaign, said the tariffs risk the gains created by the tax law and recent deregulation.

But like Perdue and Isakson, Handel also steered clear of directly attacking Trump’s agenda.

“I support President Trump’s goal to renegotiate agreements with our trading partners and champion the 'America first' strategy, so that our farmers, businesses, and workers have a level playing field," she said. "Existing jobs and the creation of new jobs depend on the ability of U.S. companies to sell more American-made products and services."

Handel's 6th District is home to the new U.S. headquarters of Mercedes-Benz, which could be hit hard by the new tariffs. Porsche also has a presence in the neighboring district near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Trump is reportedly mulling a ban on German luxury cars.

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