Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, hasn’t taken a stance on President Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, but said he’s “very concerned about it.”

“I don’t think trade wars are good,” he said. “Sometimes they may be necessary. I’m sympathetic to the concerns the president has that America has entered into trading relationships that are disadvantageous to our country and to our country’s workers and in terms of wages. I do worry that once they’re started, they’re hard to end and there can also be unintended consequences. For example, if we start by raising tariffs on aluminum and steel, it would be easy for some of our trading partners to retaliate against our agriculture sector.”

Cornyn spoke with reporters Friday outside of the George Washington Carver Library after casting his ballot for early voting. He said he’s still studying the plan and Congress intends to have hearings to better understand it.

The New York Times reported the European Union has threatened to retaliate in response to the president’s plan by putting tariffs on products like Harley-Davidsons, Kentucky bourbon and blue jeans. Other nations’ leaders have also responded with criticism.


Cornyn also stressed the need to act on gun legislation to prevent future tragedies, saying his bipartisan bill on strengthening the National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system is a good place to start. He met with President Trump earlier in the week and said the president also called him Thursday evening to clarify his stance on the bill.

“I think he realizes that the best way to get a result is to start with a consensus bill like the background check bill I’ve introduced after Sutherland Springs and then go from there.”

He says conversations need to continue about ways to improve mental health and school safety.

“We need to act,” he said. “This can’t just be another exercise in futility where we end up empty-handed.”