Republicans ignore Trump's policy whims _ but not on trade

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Republicans ignore Trump's policy whims _ but not on trade
In this Jan. 25, 2018 photo, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks to reporters as he arrives at the office of Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who is moderating bipartisan negotiations on immigration, at the Capitol in Washington. Republicans in Congress have learned to ignore President Trump's policy whims, knowing whatever he says one day he'll change by the next. There's even a name for it: the Tuesday president or the Thursday president, referring to his two-day reversal on immigration. But Trump's decision to impose tariffs is another matter. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in Congress have learned to ignore President Donald Trump’s policy whims, knowing whatever he says one day on guns, immigration or other complicated issues could well change by the next.

But Trump’s decision to seek steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports has provoked rarely seen urgency among Republican lawmakers. They’re scrambling to convince the president he would spark a trade war that could stall the economy’s recent gains if he doesn’t reverse course.

The issue pits Trump’s populist promises to his voters against GOP free trade orthodoxy and the interests of business leaders.

Unlike recent immigration and gun policy changes that require legislation, Trump can alter trade policy by executive action, intensifying the pressure on lawmakers to change his mind before he gives final approval for the penalties.