Republicans Slam Biden Tariffs on China: ‘Phony Attempt’ to Cover Up ‘Far-Left, Green Agenda’

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Christophe Archambault, Robert Perry, Jeff J. Mitchell, iStock/Getty Images; BNN

Republican senators slammed the Biden administration’s announcement Tuesday of increased tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles as being about President Joe Biden’s attempt to bolster his green agenda.

Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), a strong advocate of American manufacturers, told Breitbart News in a statement:

Joe Biden’s electric vehicles mandates have been a complete catastrophe for American autoworkers. This is a phony attempt to cover up the fact that his far-left, green agenda has caused significant harm to one of our most critical industries. When Donald Trump is back in the White House, the American auto industry will be back bigger and better than ever.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a staunch China hawk, also said in a statement to Breitbart News that the tariffs were coming too late — three years into his administration.

Tariffs, while a tool of strategic importance, must be wielded with foresight, not hindsight. While these tariffs are a good step, President Biden’s delay has already done damage. American manufacturers have been crushed by unfair Chinese competition for too long.

Rubio also sent the Biden administration a letter asking why it was only increasing tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) and not Chinese combustion engine vehicles. The letter said:

It is imperative that any updated tariff regime adequately address the extinction-level threat that Chinese vehicles—both internal combustion engine and electric—pose to American automakers and the workers they employ. I urge you to reconsider this reckless, half-baked decision that will jeopardize the future of America’s automakers.

Republicans argue that Biden’s mandate in March aimed at making the majority of vehicles sold in America electric vehicle or hybrids in 2032 will do far more harm to the U.S. auto industry than the new tariffs will help them.

Rubio said in his letter that both Chinese electric vehicles and internal combustible engine vehicles pose an “extinction-level” threat to American automakers and the workers they employ. “I urge you to reconsider this reckless, half-baked decision that will jeopardize the future of America’s automakers,” he said.

Both Vance and Rubio have been floated as potential contenders for Trump’s vice presidential candidate pick. On Tuesday, Vance accompanied Trump to the Manhattan courthouse where Trump is battling charges from Democrat District Attorney Alvin Bragg of falsifying business records to win the 2016 election.

Former President Donald Trump and his campaign also slammed the tariffs. Trump told reporters Tuesday morning, “They’ve also got to do it on other vehicles and other products because China’s eating our lunch right now.”

His press secretary, Karoline Leavitt, said in a statement:

The fact that these tariffs do not apply to gas-powered cars and trucks but only to Chinese EVs shows that this has nothing to do with protecting American Workers. It’s all about Crooked Joe’s agenda of killing gas-powered automobiles while forcing Americans into ultra-expensive Electric Vehicles they don’t want and can’t afford.

The Biden administration also announced tariffs on Chinese medical equipment, but one American manufacturer said they were too little, too late.

“It’s too little, too late. China has gained a dominant market position in the U.S. while the administration dithered,” Scott Maier, CEO of Blue Star NBR, told Breitbart News.

While some of the tariffs will increase between 25 to 50 percent this year, a tariff on rubber medical and surgical gloves of 25 percent will not take effect until 2026.

As Breitbart News has reported, after one year of Biden being in office, China increased its share of medical gloves to the U.S. from 14.2 percent to 26.8 percent. In December 2023, that share increased to 44.15 percent, becoming the U.S.’s top supplier.

“At this pace, if nothing changes, the U.S. will be dependent on China for approximately 60 percent of medical gloves used domestically in 2024,” Breitbart News’s Matthew Boyle reported in February.

Maier said the Biden administration needed to impose a 100 percent tariff on Chinese-made gloves, since even a 25 percent tariff on Chinese-made gloves would still make them cheaper than U.S.-made gloves.

“For a level global playing field where countries like the U.S. and Malaysia can compete, something closer to a 100 percent tariff is needed. Our country is in an extremely vulnerable position given our healthcare system’s overdependence on China,” he said, adding:

We are on track to rely on China for the majority of our nitrile gloves, which means China has enormous leverage given its ability to affect not only our healthcare system, but our first responders handling fentanyl, our sanitary food processing, and our semiconductor factories building critical chips. This return of the tariff, after an unacceptably long runway of two years, seems to ignore all that China has done since COVID hit over four years ago.

The tariffs come just months before the 2024 election.

Politico reported last week the Biden administration actually wanted to cut some of the tariffs on “thousands of consumer products,” and increase them on high-tech industries but decisions were hampered by internal debate and a desire to repair the U.S. relationship with China.

Vulnerable Democrats in the midwest have also been pushing the Biden administration to raise tariffs on China. Meanwhile, Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has called for dramatically raising tariffs on China.

Now, Politico reported, the Biden administration “may have little choice but to double down on Trump’s approach.” A trade lobbyist told the outlet that the administration had “painted itself into a corner.”

In April, Biden previewed his tariffs announcement at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania to steelworkers, a key historic voting block for Democrats.

“It’s just kind of curious that as election season is heating up, Biden is talking about the tariffs,” Maier said.

“The fact that you’re letting China gain even more market share keeps us up at night,” he added. “China keeps getting larger and larger on all these medical consumables. If we get into a larger trade war or something on Taiwan or one of those other issues, China has a very strong lever to pull. They can say, ‘Alright, we’ll shut down your healthcare system in about 45 days because we’re not going to send boats of all these supplies.’”

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