Orrin Hatch, the Utah Republican who chairs the Senate Finance Committee and who has enjoyed a close relationship with Trump, called the president's latest move policy "misguided". He said trade wars can only be lost and that Congress "cannot be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster". "I understand that it's a challenge on the campaign trail, certainly", Flake said on Monday. "But that's not to say it will stay that way".
Flake, whom many speculate has his own presidential ambitions, did not indicate whether he meant to be that challenger.
The administration announced Sunday night that it would launch a commission to study school violence and would look at ways to allow states to train teachers who wanted to carry guns.
"Todd said, "[Trump] is running for re-election already.
"Yes, I do. I do", Flake replied.
Ryan urged Trump to be more "surgical", while McConnell noted on Tuesday that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had been a "winner" for his state. This year, he has given Senate floor speeches denouncing the president's attacks on the media and antagonism toward Democrats.
Flake, like many Republicans, has expressed deep concerns about Trump's plans to issue new tariffs on aluminum and steel and says he's ready to fight legislatively if needed.
"I think ultimately it can be good in the short term for steelworkers", said Assistant Professor of Economics at OSU Kyle Dempsey.
Flake also reiterated his belief that Trump's behavior as president, such as continuing to verbally abuse the media, "does real damage long term to the political culture" and should not be normalized.
"We just want fairness", he added.
"What's worse, the president's attempt at "flexibility" in the form of poorly defined exemptions only serves to harm the economy further by creating uncertainty", he said. "And I don't blame my colleagues for just saying, 'Hey, you know, I'm just not going to comment anymore.' But I think it's our responsibility, at least at some point, when he goes so far, to stand up and say, 'This is not normal".
In the case of these tariffs, the Republican leader used a 1962 law authorizing the president to tax certain imports in the name of national security protection - legislation rarely invoked in the past except in the notable case of oil.