White House says it is still moving forward with Mexico tariffs as talks continue


The White House on Thursday said that it still intended to impose tariffs on Mexican imports Monday amid reports that it was considering an extension.

“Position has not changed, and we are still moving forward with tariffs at this time,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement.

Bloomberg reported earlier that the White House was considering delaying the tariffs. A White House official told NBC News that “significant progress is being made” in negotiations with Mexico.

Talks between the two countries will resume Thursday evening at 5:30 p.m. ET, according to Martha Barcena, Mexico’s ambassador to Washington.

President Donald Trump has said that his administration will impose escalating tariffs on Mexico beginning Monday at a rate of 5%. Trump said that the tariffs will remain in effect until Mexico is able to prevent unlawful immigration into the U.S.

A senior administration official told CNBC that the likeliest scenario is that the two countries will reach an agreement after Monday but before July 1, when the rate is scheduled to hit 10%.

‘Something pretty dramatic could happen’

Earlier Thursday, Trump said, “we have to make a lot of progress” in talks to avoid the tariffs.

“We’ll see what happens,” the president said. “But, something pretty dramatic could happen. We’ve told Mexico, ‘the tariffs go on,’ and I mean it too. I’m very happy with it.”

U.S. business groups and the vast majority of lawmakers have slammed the threatened tariffs.

On Thursday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., called the tariffs “an abuse of power” and said he would put forward a resolution of disapproval to block the duties if Trump imposed them. It is unclear if enough House Republicans would vote against Trump’s policy to form veto-proof majority in the Democratic-held chamber.

Most members of the GOP-held Senate also oppose the tariffs. While Republican senators are hesitant to rebuke the president in a vote of disapproval, the chamber could come close to a veto-proof majority to block the duties.

In an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he saw little enthusiasm in his caucus “for what would amount to a tax increase, frankly, on working class people.”

Lawmakers from border states such as Texas and Arizona have warned the tariffs would devastate their economies. Some members of Congress have also worried the duties would endanger the already fraught efforts to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Trump’s replacement of the North American Free Trade Agreement.