Senators say tariffs wrong way to handle China trade issues

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Via AP Business

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally agreed Friday that China’s trade actions are a big problem but tariffs imposed by the Trump administration are hurting Arizona businesses and are the wrong way to address issues between the two nations.

Sinema and McSally spoke separately to a crowd at an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry event.

Sinema, a Democrat, called on leaders of both parties to repeal tariffs and end what she called a manufactured trade war.

“China is a bad actor — we can all agree on that,” she said. “But the way to fight it is not to hurt your own businesses. That doesn’t make sense.”

McSally, a Republican, said she also opposes tariffs and the U.S. needs to work with its allies to boost pressure on China.

“This is a national security issue for sure, and this is very much my focus,” McSally said. “But I’m a free and fair trader at heart. I don’t support tariffs.”

Sinema beat McSally in November to win the Senate seat vacated by Republican Jeff Flake. McSally was appointed to the late Sen. John McCain’s seat following the resignation of placeholder Jon Kyl.

Sinema and McSally were members of the House before facing off in the election.

Both also said they disagreed with administration actions to pull officers from trade-screening duty at ports of entry to help boost the U.S. Border Patrol’s effort to handle a surge of asylum seekers at the border.

“I understand our worry that they’re overwhelmed,” McSally said of Border Patrol agents. “But we’ve got to figure out a better way than moving agents from another key, critical part of border security at the ports of entry that also will hurt our economy in order to address this.”

Sinema said moving Customs and Border Protection officers from the ports is the wrong move.

“By taking these CBP officers from the ports of entry, not only are you slowing down legitimate commerce, you’re reducing our ability to capture the illegitimate commerce that’s coming in,” Sinema said.

Sinema later told business journalists that she does not regret voting for Attorney General William Barr. She was one of just three Democrats to support his confirmation in a February vote that rankled many in her party.

“Based on the information that we discussed during our lengthy interview prior to his nomination, I felt confident I was making the right decision,” Sinema said at a convention for the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. “Based on the information I had at the time, it was correct.”

But since then, she said, there have been “troubling reports” that Barr may have lied to Congress. She’s requested a meeting with Barr next week “so that he and I can discuss these troubling discrepancies, and so that I can find the truth of the matter to the best of my ability.”

She did not disclose what she would say to Barr or if she would take any action based on his responses.

Some Democrats have raised questions about Barr’s testimony about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report of Russian interference. Barr has denied that his testimony was misleading.

Sinema has said Barr was wrong to support President Donald Trump’s refusal to release the unredacted Mueller report to Congress, citing executive privilege.

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