Ryan, Barr Lament but Defend Trump’s Tariff Strategy at Toyota Visit

Speaker campaigns for vulnerable GOP incumbent in Kentucky

Kentucky Republican Rep. Andy Barr says the general objectives of the Trump administration’s trade policies were “right on.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Kentucky Rep. Andy Barr and Speaker Paul D. Ryan navigated a sensitive trade issue on the campaign trail Tuesday as they both lamented and defended President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs during a joint appearance at Toyota Tsusho America in Georgetown, Kentucky.

“Obviously, this is a very trade sensitive industry,” Barr said to the auto manufacturer’s employees, before launching into a defense of Trump’s trade inclinations.

“The general objectives of the administration are right on. We need to get fair, free trade,” he said.

Barr is facing a tough battle as he bids for a fourth term representing Kentucky’s 6th District. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates his race against Democrat Amy McGrath a Toss-up.

Barr said lawmakers, who have oversight over the administration’s trade deals, have been monitoring the tariff situation “to make sure the strategy is actually working.” That strategy, he said, is to have fair, reciprocal trade without tariffs.

“Where I want to go with these tariffs eventually is zero tariffs on all sides of every border,” Barr said.

Ryan agreed with Barr that while he opposes tariffs, the administration’s strategy seems to be working.

“The goal of all of this is — and it’s becoming more clearly in sight — is to get better agreements with our allies,” the Wisconsin Republican said.

Ryan cited the new revised trade deal with Canada and Mexico as an example, noting that it addressed a lot of problems like Canadian tariffs on U.S. dairy exports in the previous agreement.

“I wasn’t a fan of tariffs. I still am not,” Ryan said, before adding that they have “succeeded in getting our allies to come back to the table.”

Watch: McConnell, Schumer React to Trump Trade Deal

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