Senator Chuck Grassley. (file photo)

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley talked with reporters today after returning from a trip to China and South Korea in a trade delegation with other Senators.

The trip comes in the wake of the tariffs imposed on China by President Trump and retaliation tariffs — which have Iowa producers concerned. Grassley, a Republican from New Hartford, says the Chinese representatives said they are interested in talking more to work out trade issues and he isn’t condemning the U.S. tariffs outright.

“You do in a sense say, yes do you let things play out because the president is in the driver’s seat on this and all we can do is let him know how we feel about it,” Grassley says. “I think at least Republicans have made strong points of view to the president.” Grassley says the administration’s tariffs have not all turned out negative, as he cites the steel and aluminum tariffs.

“Because we were going to impose those duties on South Korea and they agreed to let more cars into South Korea. So, the president has won some points on that,” Grassley says. Senator Grassley says he has repeatedly  told the president his concerns that imposing tariffs could be heading down a “slippery slope” and says he will continue to press the issue when needed.

“We’re still going to continue to express our views and when Iowans or the country as whole are hurt as a result of these trade policies — we are going to speak out against them and fight for our interests,” Grassley says. He says there’s not a lot Congress can do on the trade issues.

“When the president has the authority under the law that he does — passed in the Kennedy Administration 1963 — to impose these tariffs for national security reasons, about the only thing Congress can do….to send a real message is to change the law, and I doubt there is going to be enough support to change that law,” according to Grassley. He says too many Democrats support the moves the president is making to get a change in the law.

“But we still can’t sit back and allow things to go along like we aren’t concerned, because our job is to look out for our constituents,” Grassley says. Grassley says the delegation met with form Iowa Governor Terry Branstad who is now the U.S. Ambassador to China. He says he got the impression that Branstad is committed to preserving the economic strength of the U.S. by working with Chinese officials on these trade issues.