US Republican Senator Flake vows bill to undo Trump's tariffs

WASHINGTON, March 8 (Reuters) - U.S. Republican Senator Jeff Flake said on Thursday he would introduce a bill to nullify President Donald Trump's aluminum and steel tariffs, which Trump finalized in a proclamation earlier in the day.

Flake's move came amid a loud chorus of criticism from Republicans, traditionally a free-trade party, for Trump's action. The Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Orrin Hatch, also criticized the tariffs but said he would work with the White House to "mitigate the damage."

There was some praise from Democrats for the Republican president. Senator Joe Manchin, who is running for re-election this year from West Virginia, where Trump won overwhelmingly in 2016, said it was "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."

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Impact of Trump's proposed steel and aluminum tariffs
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Impact of Trump's proposed steel and aluminum tariffs
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 1: A trader is comforted by a coworker as they work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 1, 2018 in New York City. Major stock indexes plunged Thursday afternoon following President Trump's announcement that he was imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Investor concern about the news rattled the Dow Jones industrial average, which closed down more than 400 points. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 02: Wine in aluminum cans is displayed on a shelf at Ales Unlimited on March 2, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Beverage companies that use aluminum for canned drinks are concerned that tariffs proposed by US President Donald Trump could result in higher prices for consumers and job cuts across the industry. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump announces that the United States will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum during a meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Members of trade unions hold a protest against US President Donal Trump's import surcharge on Brazilian steel and in defense of their employment, outside the US Consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 5, 2018. Since announcing last week plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium, Trump has shrugged off threats from many nations, including China, Canada, Brazil and Mexico among others. / AFP PHOTO / Miguel SCHINCARIOL (Photo credit should read MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 02: Beer in aluminum cans is displayed on a shelf at Ales Unlimited on March 2, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Beverage companies that use aluminum for canned drinks are concerned that tariffs proposed by US President Donald Trump could result in higher prices for consumers and job cuts across the industry. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and press secretary Sarah Sanders listen as U.S. President Donald Trump announces that the United States will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum during a meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 1: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 1, 2018 in New York City. Major stock indexes plunged Thursday afternoon following President Trump's announcement that he was imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Investor concern about the news rattled the Dow Jones industrial average, which closed down more than 400 points. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
Members of trade unions hold a protest against US President Donal Trump's import surcharge on Brazilian steel and in defense of their employment, outside the US Consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on March 5, 2018. Since announcing last week plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium, Trump has shrugged off threats from many nations, including China, Canada, Brazil and Mexico among others. / AFP PHOTO / Miguel SCHINCARIOL (Photo credit should read MIGUEL SCHINCARIOL/AFP/Getty Images)
Chairman, CEO and president of Nucor John Ferriola and U.S. Steel CEO Dave Burritt flank U.S. President Donald Trump as he announces that the United States will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on imported aluminum during a meeting at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 1, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 1: A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 1, 2018 in New York City. Major stock indexes plunged Thursday afternoon following President Trump's announcement that he was imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Investor concern about the news rattled the Dow Jones industrial average, which closed down more than 400 points. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 02: Wine in aluminum cans is displayed on a shelf at Ales Unlimited on March 2, 2018 in San Francisco, California. Beverage companies that use aluminum for canned drinks are concerned that tariffs proposed by US President Donald Trump could result in higher prices for consumers and job cuts across the industry. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 1: Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on March 1, 2018 in New York City. Major stock indexes plunged Thursday afternoon following President Trump's announcement that he was imposing a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum. Investor concern about the news rattled the Dow Jones industrial average, which closed down more than 400 points. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
Pacific Coast Producers president and CEO Dan Vincent stands in his cooperative's distribution center in Lodi, California, U.S., April 27, 2018. Picture taken April 27, 2018. To match Insight USA-TRUMP/TARIFFS-CANS REUTERS/Noah Berger
An employee uses a crane as he prepares to move a steel pipe at the SAW Pipe Mills, operated by Liberty Commodities Ltd., in Hartlepool, U.K., on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Steel and aluminum�tariffs�imposed by the U.S. in March may already be filtering through to prices charged by American producers of the metals. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
An employee passes a stack of steel pipes at the SAW Pipe Mills, operated by Liberty Commodities Ltd., in Hartlepool, U.K., on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Steel and aluminum�tariffs�imposed by the U.S. in March may already be filtering through to prices charged by American producers of the metals. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
A steel pipe enters a cleaning machine at the SAW Pipe Mills, operated by Liberty Commodities Ltd., in Hartlepool, U.K., on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Steel and aluminum�tariffs�imposed by the U.S. in March may already be filtering through to prices charged by American producers of the metals. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Identification stencils hang above steel pipes at the SAW Pipe Mills, operated by Liberty Commodities Ltd., in Hartlepool, U.K., on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Steel and aluminum�tariffs�imposed by the U.S. in March may already be filtering through to prices charged by American producers of the metals. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sheet steel sits stacked in the store room at the SAW Pipe Mills, operated by Liberty Commodities Ltd., in Hartlepool, U.K., on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Steel and aluminum�tariffs�imposed by the U.S. in March may already be filtering through to prices charged by American producers of the metals. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Flake, an Arizona conservative who has frequently feuded with Trump, said in a statement that Trump's "so-called ‘flexible tariffs’ are a marriage of two lethal poisons to economic growth – protectionism and uncertainty .... Congress cannot be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster."

Flake said he would immediately draft and introduce legislation to nullify the tariffs, "and I urge my colleagues to pass it before this exercise in protectionism inflicts any more damage on the economy."

Trump will impose 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent for aluminum but exempted Canada and Mexico.

Both houses of Congress have Republican majorities. But despite widespread unhappiness in the party over Trump's tariffs, passage of such legislation would be a long shot - especially since a two-thirds super-majority would be needed for passage over a likely presidential veto.

Another senator, Republican Mike Lee of Utah, in January introduced a bill to take back some of the power that Congress over the years has delegated to the executive on trade.

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Sen. Jeff Flake
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Sen. Jeff Flake
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) arrives for meeting about the Republican Tax Reform package on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Sen. Jeff Flake speaks with reporters ahead of votes on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks with reporters about the Senate health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
American aid worker Alan Gross (2nd R) poses after his release with L-R, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) at the airport in Havana, Cuba, December 17, 2014 in this photo tweeted by Rep. Van Hollen. The United States is planning to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba more than 50 years after they were severed, a major policy shift after decades of hostile ties with the communist-ruled island. REUTERS/Courtesy the office of Rep. Chris Van Hollen/Handout (CUBA - Tags: POLITICS) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 5: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., listens as President Donald Trump speaks before hosting a lunch with Senate Republicans in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday, Dec. 05, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 9: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday, Jan. 09, 2018. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) looks on during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing concerning the authorizations for use of military force, October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. As Mattis and Tillerson face questions about the administration's authority to use military force, Congress is still seeking more information about the deadly ambush that killed four U.S. troops in Niger. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill after announcing he will not seek re-election October 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. Flake announced that he will leave the Senate after his term ends in 14 months. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and his wife Cheryl Flake leave the U.S. Capitol as they are trailed by reporters, October 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. Flake announced that he will not be seeking re-election and he will leave the Senate after his term ends in 14 months. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 18: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., listens as Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Full committee hearing on 'Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice' on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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Flake, 55, described himself in October as out of step with his party and said he would not seek re-election. His term ends in January 2019.

Although he has voted for Trump's policies, such as the Republican tax overhaul last year, Flake has continued criticizing Trump when he disagrees with him. In a January speech he castigated the president for his attacks on the media.

With Congress stalemated over immigration, Flake earlier this week sought to force a Senate vote on temporarily protecting "Dreamer" immigrants from being deported, while financing Trump's border wall for three years, but another Republican blocked Flake's effort.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Writing by Makini Brice Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Lisa Shumaker)

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