President Donald Trump’s announcement of imminent tariffs on steel and aluminum upset Republican lawmakers and donors who have come out vocally against the idea.
Since Trump said he would impose tariffs of 10% on aluminum and 25% on steel last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, groups backed by conservative mega-donors the Koch Brothers and the advocacy group Club for Growth have criticized the plan.
“We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul Ryan, said in a statement Monday. “The new tax reform law has boosted the economy and we certainly don’t want to jeopardize those gains.”
Ryan’s office also pointedly sent reporters an article Monday from CNBC that highlighted how the Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 100 points after it opened on Monday because investors were worried about the tariffs. (The market has since rebounded).
Republicans in Congress have not ruled out taking action if Trump stands by the tariffs policy, according to one GOP source in Congress .
Hatch, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said that whoever advised Trump on this policy “ought to be reprimanded.” “It’s not a wise thing to do, and I don’t know why the President has gone along with it,” he told CBS News. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said the policy was out of the Democratic playbook. “You’d expect a policy this bad from a leftist administration, not a supposedly Republican one,” Sasse said in a statement.
One Republican donor and fundraiser, Dan Eberhart, the CEO of Canary LLC, an oilfield services company, sent a letter to President Trump Monday urging him to re-consider the policy, because it would have detrimental economic effects on his business.
“Protectionist policies like the proposed tariffs could end up doing more harm than good. Instead, lets continue your plan for unleashing America’s robust economic growth by avoiding a damaging trade war,” Eberhart wrote in his letter.
Eberhart was one of the donors who declined to contribute to Republican groups until they passed tax reform. “I am a Trump supporter but this gives me pause,” he wrote in an e-mail to Fortune when asked how this could impact future donations. “This does not help us as an industry (oil and gas) compete with OPEC [organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.]
There is also public opposition from advocacy groups outside Congress that not only have financial clout, but hold sway with conservative donors and activists. Two groups backed by conservative and libertarian mega-donors Charles and David Koch, Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity, have come out against the announcement, arguing, like Ryan, that it will hurt American consumers and jobs, and jeopardize the successes of the tax reform bill Trump signed into law at the end of last year.“
David McIntosh, the President of Club For Growth, a Conservative Political Action Committee, called the policy an “affront to economic freedom.”
This opposition doesn’t seem to have fazed Trump, at least not publicly; he tweeted Monday that he would only revoke the tariffs if a new NAFTA agreement was signed, and he told reporters Monday he was sticking with that position.
“We’re not backing down,” Trump said Monday.
(Disclosure: Time Inc., TIME and Fortune’s parent company, was acquired by Meredith Corp. in a deal partially financed by Koch Equity Development, a subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc.)