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May 27, 2022, 10:33 a.m. EDT

Mitt Romney, Elizabeth Warren, other senators send bipartisan letter to Biden urging him to keep Trump’s China tariffs, saying they’re ‘not a driver of today’s inflation’

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By Victor Reklaitis

That’s how a bipartisan group of nine U.S. senators wrapped up a letter sent Wednesday to President Joe Biden, as they asked him to “substantially maintain” tariffs on Chinese imports that were imposed by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

The senators noted that “much of the inflation we are seeing relates to fuel /zigman2/quotes/210286597/delayed RB00 -2.56% and food /zigman2/quotes/200461180/composite PBJ -0.39% — sectors that are unrelated to imports from China.”

“Rolling back the tariffs on China would undermine the U.S. position in negotiations, expose many U.S. companies and workers to a sudden flood of imports, and signal to China that waiting out the United States is preferable to changing their non-market behavior or complying with the Phase One Agreement,” they also wrote in their missive, referring to a deal that Trump made with Beijing .

Among the nine senators who signed the letter to Biden were three Democrats — Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — and six Republicans: Mike Braun of Indiana, Kevin Cramer of North Dakota, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Rob Portman of Ohio, Mitt Romney of Utah and Rick Scott of Florida.

During his recent trip to Asia, Biden said he’s weighing cutting tariffs on Chinese goods, adding that they “were imposed by the last administration, and they’re under consideration.”

The Biden administration has  eased some Trump-era tariffs  on other countries’ goods, but economists have said more could be done and it would help with high U.S. inflation . Economists have long said that tariffs are a tax on consumers .

One analyst told MarketWatch in February that the White House hopes to “get to fairly widespread tariff rollbacks sometime this year,” but the constraints include not wanting to announce those rollbacks until negotiating for some changes in China’s industrial policies.

U.S. stocks /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -0.32% /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -0.34% /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -0.36% were on track Friday for big weekly gains, helped in part by Federal Reserve minutes out Wednesday that suggested the American central bank remains open to rethinking its aggressive plans to raise interest rates to tame inflation.

Now read: As Biden fights inflation, economists warn his weapons for this battle look ‘extremely limited’

And see: Blinken says U.S. to leverage Russia-Ukraine bloc against China

This is an updated version of a report that was first published on May 26, 2022.

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