Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity calls on Congress to block Trump's Mexico tariffs

By Mike Lano

/ CBS News

Will Congress block Trump's planned tariffs on Mexico?

The conservative political advocacy group Americans for Prosperity is calling on lawmakers to block attempts by President Trump to impose tariffs on Mexico, the president of the organization told CBSN on Tuesday.

"We don't think they're the right approach. They first and foremost hurt American consumers," said Americans For Prosperity President Tim Phillips during an interview with Tanya Rivero on CBSN's "Red & Blue."

The group, backed by the influential Charles and David Koch, issued a press release Tuesday urging lawmakers to "reclaim their constitutionally mandated authority to impose tariffs and prevent further unilateral tariff increases by the president."

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Phillips said the tariffs impact goods from Mexico, especially food products, leading to higher prices, and negatively impact senior citizens and those on fixed incomes.

"The president is right," said Phillips. "Mexico will be hurt, but so will we. And it's across the board. It's American consumers."

Some Senate Republicans appear to be discussing plans to block Mr. Trump's planned tariffs, although they are hopeful a solution can be reached with Mexico during talks this week, CBS News' Rebecca Kaplan, Alan He and Nancy Cordes report.

"There have been some Republicans who have stood up and boldly said this is a bad idea," said Phillips. "We are simply asking them [Republicans] to go back to the bedrock principles, your roots and do the right thing here."

But Phillips also noted it is difficult to compete with what he called Mr. Trump's "megaphone."

"But the president, regardless of party, they do have a bully pulpit, and that's not just a cliche, that's the reality. They have a megaphone every day to be able dominate media coverage and a national conversation," Phillips said.

Mr. Trump appeared to use that megaphone Tuesday during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Theresa May in London. When asked about Republicans discussing a move to block his tariffs, the Mr. Trump appeared unconcerned.

"Oh, I don't think they will do that. I think if they do, it's foolish," Mr. Trump said. He also cited what he called an "all-time record" level of support among Republicans.

Mr. Trump said last week he will impose a 5% tariffs on goods coming from Mexico starting on June 10 "until the Illegal Immigration problem is remedied," referring to the surge of Central American migrants trying to cross the U.S. border.

Phillips, meanwhile, said he doesn't Mexico should allow millions of people to try and enter the U.S., he is worried about rhetoric turning into reality on the threat of tariffs.

"It is worrisome with this relationship we have with Mexico with these tariffs," Phillips said. "We hope it's just rhetoric, we do, but it's worrisome given the track record over the last two years."

Part Two of Tim Phillips' interview with Tanya Rivero will air Wednesday Red & Blue at 5 p.m. Phillips and Rivero will discuss the role of "Americans for Prosperity" and the Koch Brothers in the 2020 election, and why the organization is choosing to not back a presidential candidate.

First published on June 5, 2019 / 12:13 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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