Sens. McSally, Sinema say tariffs wrong way to handle China trade issues

PHOENIX — Arizona Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally agreed Friday that China’s trade actions are a big problem but tariffs imposed by the Trump administration are hurting Arizona businesses and are the wrong way to address issues between the two nations.

Sinema and McSally spoke separately to a crowd at an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry event.

Sinema, a Democrat, called on leaders of both parties to repeal tariffs and end what she called a manufactured trade war.

“China is a bad actor — we can all agree on that,” she said. “But the way to fight it is not to hurt your own businesses. That doesn’t make sense.”

McSally, a Republican, said she also opposes tariffs and the U.S. needs to work with its allies to boost pressure on China.

“This is a national security issue for sure, and this is very much my focus,” McSally said. “But I’m a free and fair trader at heart. I don’t support tariffs.”

Sinema beat McSally in November to win the Senate seat vacated by Republican Jeff Flake. McSally was appointed to the late Sen. John McCain’s seat following the resignation of placeholder Jon Kyl.

Sinema and McSally were members of the House before facing off in the election.

Both also said they disagreed with administration actions to pull officers from trade-screening duty at ports of entry to help boost the U.S. Border Patrol’s effort to handle a surge of asylum seekers at the border.

“I understand our worry that they’re overwhelmed,” McSally said of Border Patrol agents. “But we’ve got to figure out a better way than moving agents from another key, critical part of border security at the ports of entry that also will hurt our economy in order to address this.”

Sinema said moving Customs and Border Protection officers from the ports is the wrong move.

“By taking these CBP officers from the ports of entry, not only are you slowing down legitimate commerce, you’re reducing our ability to capture the illegitimate commerce that’s coming in,” Sinema said.

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