April 19, 2019

Trump Loves the New Nafta. Congress Doesn’t.

And many Republicans, including Mr. Toomey and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, say they want the White House to remove steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico because Mr. Trump had reached a deal with the two countries.

Mr. Trump has so far refused to budge on the metal tariffs and has instead threatened to withdraw from Nafta to try to force Congress to vote on the new trade deal. A formal notice of withdrawal would give Congress six months to pass the pact or potentially return to a pre-Nafta trading system with higher tariffs and more restrictive trade barriers.

Republicans are warning that such a move most likely falls outside Mr. Trump’s authority and would only reduce the chances of Congress passing the U.S.M.C.A.

“I imagine you’d have a huge sell-off in equities and have very, very disrupted financial markets,” Mr. Toomey said. “I sure hope the president does not go down that road.”

Republican strategists say that unless Mr. Trump agrees to compromise, he will most likely face defeat.

“The president has two options on this trade deal: the honey or the hammer,” said Antonia Ferrier, a Republican strategist with Definers Public Affairs and a former aide to the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Mr. Trump, she said, could bargain with Ms. Pelosi or withdraw from Nafta. “Neither are great options,” she said, “which is why there’s so much skepticism that U.S.M.C.A. will even happen.”

Democrats — including populists who tend to side more with Mr. Trump than Mr. Toomey on trade issues — say they are open to working with the administration to improve and pass the agreement. Party leaders have had productive discussions with Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, to reinforce the need for negotiators to secure additional labor and environmental protections before any floor vote.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/06/business/nafta-trump-deal.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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