Trump on Thursday signed proclamations that will impose a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tax on aluminum. The president exempted Mexico and Canada from the taxes and said it would consider waivers for other countries.
Speaking at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston, Cornyn and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski warned the taxes could hold back investments in oil and gas infrastructure, alienate allies and water down the benefits of tax cuts and deregulation.
Cornyn connected Trump's attitude towards trade as president to the "populist impulses" that defined his campaign.
"I would hope that we would not treat every country with sort of a one size fits all like we see in this initial tariff on aluminum and steel," he said.
"We want free and fair trade, because that benefits our country, our workforce and our economy," Cornyn added. "I hope we can be a little more surgical in the approach."
Murkowski, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said the tariffs could impact plans to build out infrastructure that her state long has anticipated.
"This is a big deal up north," Murkowski said.
Murkowski said initial estimates suggest the tariffs could raise the cost of a proposed 800-mile pipeline, part of the $43 billion Alaska LNG Project, by hundreds of millions of dollars if not a half-billion dollars.
Murkowski said the tariffs send a confusing message to America's allies.