He excluded Mexico and Canada from the tariffs, following pressure from fellow Republicans to get him to reconsider, but still pressed ahead with the tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum.
Some members of Congress are even considering - gasp! - reclaiming their constitutional authority over tariffs.
Flake said the new tariffs, which function as taxes on imports, of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum would be detrimental to the U.S. economy and must be stopped. At least he'll have on his side fellow Arizona Republican Sen. "I'm assuming I won't be the only one to do that", Flake, the frequent Trump critic, told reporters Thursday.
Companies may claim that Trump's use of the national security rationale is inconsistent with his protectionist public statements, and therefore is an illegitimate use of Section 232, said Raj Bhala, a specialist in worldwide trade law at Kansas University School of Law. He said he would support Congress passing laws to curtail the president's executive power. "The Department of Defense assesses that its programs are able to acquire all the steel and aluminum necessary to meet national defense requirements".
Such an alliance has incensed Republicans, even those closest to Trump, who are concerned the tariff push will undermine the benefits they hope to reap from a good economy and new tax cuts while boosting rivals they need to defeat in November.
"The tariffs on steel and aluminum risk undermining these positive economic developments by increasing input costs to American manufacturing and steel-dependent industries employing more than 17 million workers", he said.
The European Union has threatened to slap similar tariffs on American products.
Last year, he wrote a book rebuking his own Republican Party for embracing Trump-style nationalism and protectionism at the expense of traditional conservative values such as free trade. And, you know, when we only represent just over 20% of the world's economy, only 5% of the world's population, if we don't trade, we don't grow. And it's a recipe for killing growth.
"As a Republican who believes in free trade, limited government, economic freedom, I couldn't be re-elected in my party right now", Flake said. They and the country will pay the price.