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More than a dozen Republican lawmakers are expected to meet Wednesday afternoon with President Donald Trump to discuss trade and farm issues, the White House said.
The meeting was announced a day after Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue confirmed a $12 billion stopgap aid proposal for farmers affected by the Trump administration's aggressive tariff policy. The aid package has heightened fears about the potential consequences of a trade war on U.S. industries.
Some pro-free trade Republicans delivered searing criticisms of Trump's trade policy on Tuesday, calling his tariffs "incoherent" and the farmers' bailout "gold crutches." One Republican senator even compared the Trump administration's increasing interference in markets with "a Soviet-type of economy. "
But the seven senators and six House members expected to meet with Trump on Wednesday afternoon have offered more muted responses, if any, to the bailout plan.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, said he supported a "temporary relief" program for his state's producers, while noting that "because agriculture has a positive balance of trade, our producers are heavily impacted by retaliatory tariffs."
Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, told NBC News that the $12 billion plan "is a good step" for Trump to take in the ongoing fight over international trade.
"Our president stood up to a bully and now he is standing up for rural America so it’s a good move forward," Conaway added. "It’s the right fight to have, but in the meantime, our producers have to co-exist — you know, live — while this fight is going on."
Other senators invited to the meeting: John Boozman of Arkansas, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Montana's Steve Daines, James Lankford of Oklahoma, Kansas' Pat Roberts and junior Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comment on a new policy proposal.
GOP members of the House House invited to the meeting — Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas, Tennessee's Diane Black, Washington's Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert, and South Dakota's Kristi Noem — also did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comment.
The president, who met with leaders from the European Union for trade talks at the White House on Wednesday, appeared to respond to his critics in a morning tweet. U.S. leverage to strike deals with international trade partners, he said, is weakened "when you have people snipping at your heels during a negotiation."
The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, told Trump in the Oval Office at the start of their talks that the U.S. and the EU are "friends, not enemies."