WASHINGTON/MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Republican lawmakers stepped up calls on Tuesday for President Donald Trump to pull back from proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell added to an avalanche of criticism of the measures, saying they risked igniting a trade war and damaging the U.S. economy. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks after the Senate Republican weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua RobertsMcConnell’s comments came after House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan criticized the proposed 25 percent duty on steel and 10 percent on aluminum as too broad. Although the measure is designed to hit China, its main impact will be on U.S. allies like Canada. The White House has said the measures will protect industries and jobs from unfair competition and that across-the- board tariffs are needed because countries like China use third countries for shipping steel to the United States, disguising its origin. Opponents charge that the tariffs could destroy more jobs than they create, risk alienating U.S. allies and that American consumers will end up paying more for a range of products from cans of beer to cars. “There is a lot of concern among Republican senators that this could sort of metastasize into sort of a larger trade war, and many of our members are discussing with the administration just how broad, how sweeping this might be,” McConnell said in his first comments on the issue. Financial markets have rallied off their lows on expectations the measures may be watered down in the face of an intense lobbying effort from leading Republicans, although Trump has so far stuck to his guns in public. On Tuesday, Representative Mark Meadows, the head of the Freedom Caucus, a staunchly conservative Republican grouping in Congress, raised concerns about the impact of the tariffs on American manufacturing and agriculture. Agriculture is a potential target for retaliatory tariffs from China if Trump pushes ahead. Meadows, who spoke to reporters after a closed-door meeting with House Republicans, said: “Most of the conversation I heard was not in support of that particular decision.” Those comments came after sharp criticism of the tariffs from Ryan and Representative Mark Walker. Walker heads the Republican Study Committee, which has about 150 members, a majority of the party’s lawmakers in the House. Ryan, whose home state of Wisconsin could be hit by proposed counter-tariffs from the European Union, returned to the attack on Tuesday. He has consistently opposed the tariffs and called for “more surgical and more targeted measures.” Republican Senator David Perdue of Alabama, a close Trump ally, said he had spoken to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly on Tuesday morning and when by asked by reporters about the meeting said he “thinks Trump is open to change.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks after the Senate Republican weekly policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua RobertsTrump was presented with three options by the
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