AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Texas leaders voiced their concern about new taxes on Mexican goods entering the U.S. that were track to take effect Monday before President Donald Trump tweeted Friday night that the U.S. and Mexico had reached an agreement suspending the tariffs.
State leaders worried failed negotiations would impact a partnership the state and its neighbor to the south need.
The taxes would have started at 5% and increased monthly, reaching 25% by October.
The pl President Donald Trump’s administration to stop the flood of immigrants headed to the U.S. border.
“I am absolutely in favor of securing the border, I think it’s very important we do that,” said State Rep. Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston, on Friday. “But I’m tired of doing it on the backs of Texans.”
“We’re talking about billions of dollars in product, we’re talking about billions of dollars of salaries here in Texas,” VanDeaver said. “And, we’re talking about well over 100,000 jobs and that is going to have a serious effect on the Texas economy.
VanDeaver is one of 56 Texas House members who signed a letter urging the Trump Administration to reconsider.
“Texas companies maintain well-developed cross-border supply chains, and a mutually-beneficial trade relationship with our state’s number-one trading partner, Mexico,” the letter, authored by State Rep. Rafael Anchía, D-Dallas, the House’s International Relations and Economic Development committee chairman, stated.
VanDeaver, who signed onto the letter, said the Texas economy would take a hit if the partnership with Mexico was altered.
“We just passed a budget that’s built around our economy remaining strong,” said VanDeaver, who signed onto the letter. “The budget we just passed does not work if we lose that kind of economic power.”
“Texas is the 10th largest economy in the world,” State Rep. James Talarico, D-Round Rock, said Friday. He cited a potential loss of about $12 billion to the state’s gross domestic product, and a possible loss of about 117,000 jobs in Texas.
“If President Trump wants to address our broken immigration system he should do so by working with Congress to create a comprehensive immigration reform package but not by imposing a Trump Tax on Texas businesses, and Texas workers,” said Talarico, who also signed the letter.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said Vice President Mike Pence asked for his input on how the nation’s immigration policy and trade talks would affect the Lone Star State.
“I urged the Vice President to have the administration work on strategies that will better secure our border in ways that do not involve tariffs,” Abbott said at an unrelated bill-signing press conference on Thursday. Abbott also suggested “all possible strategies must be considered” on controlling the border.
Other Texas leaders, including U.S. Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, as well as Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar, who oversees management of the state’s finances, all stated imposing tariffs would hamper the state.
The leader of the Texas Senate, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick seemingly split from the pack, publicly supporting President Trump’s proposal. He said tariffs are a last resort, but hopes it brought Mexico to the table to work together on immigration solutions.
“Mexico is doing nothing to help secure the border,” Patrick told KTVT in an interview this week.
“I understand why [President Trump] did it,” Patrick added. “Mexico has to help.”
These trade talks come as mayors from major cities in the United States, Mexico and Canada gather in Baja California for the inaugural North American Mayor’s Summit.
“A 5% tariff that increases monthly could be a tax between $25-$30 billion that we will pay as Texans,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said Friday from the conference in the city of Los Cabos.
“Given what’s happening nationally, we’re certainly talking trade,” Adler stated, sharing that the conference, which had been scheduled for months, coincidentally has aligned with conversations about trade partnerships between the three countries.
Adler said the tariffs did not feel well thought-out.
“This way of trying to act — to create pressure in an ad-hoc kind of way — poke our fingers in the eyes of allies and friends, just does not feel right and it does not feel like who we are and it doesn’t feel like the best way to operate long-term.”