Senate Dems unveil trade agenda

Senate Dems unveil trade agenda
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Senate Democrats are trying to seize the reins from President Trump on trade, launching a set of proposals they say will save jobs and boost growth while White House plans sputter.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJuan Williams: The politics of impeachment Texas Republicans slam White House over disaster relief request Dem rep: Trump disaster aid request is 'how you let America down again' MORE (N.Y.) along with five of his colleagues, unveiled on Wednesday seven trade tenets as part of their recently overhauled economic agenda aimed at reconnecting with voters who bolted for Trump’s ticket in last year’s elections.

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"The problem is President Trump has talked a good game and done virtually nothing on trade except study it, he even backed off on steel and aluminum" something that is very important for states of those leaders, Schumer told reporters during a press conference on Capitol Hill.

"We need action," he said.

“If President Trump wants to work with us to get these things done, good, we need a better deal for American workers, period.”

Democratic House and Senate party leaders have been working together to sharpen their 2018 economic message and last week unveiled  “A Better Deal” aimed at voters in heavy manufacturing and energy-producing states.

The five other Democrats Senators — Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowRep. Upton won't seek Michigan Senate seat, focuses on reelection The feds need to return to the original intent of foreign investment review GOP campaign committees call on Democrats to return Franken donations MORE (Mich.), Bob CaseyRobert (Bob) Patrick CaseyThe GOP tax bill will be a health care burden on American families Democrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  GOP campaign committees call on Democrats to return Franken donations MORE Jr. (Pa.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinStates fill family caregiver void left by Congress Democrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Dem PAC bullish on Senate chances MORE (Wis.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDemocrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Indiana Dems: GOP has double standard on donations from alleged assaulters GOP campaign committees call on Democrats to return Franken donations MORE (Ind.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinDemocrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  Overnight Finance: House passes sweeping tax bill in huge victory for GOP | Senate confirms banking regulator | Mulvaney eyed for interim head of consumer agency Overnight Regulation: Senators unveil bipartisan gun background check bill | FCC rolls back media regs | Family leave credit added to tax bill | Senate confirms banking watchdog MORE (W.Va.) — all hail from states that Trump won in November where his anti-trade message appealed to voters.

Trade has been viewed as an area where congressional Democrats and Trump may be able to work together.

But any cooperation on that front has largely fallen by the wayside as Trump has publicly slammed Democrats for failing to help push his agenda through Congress.

Still, Schumer said he welcomed help from Republicans as Democrats plan to roll out a series of bills in September aimed at chipping away at their trade agenda.

“We need to revamp our trade laws from top to bottom," he said.

The Democratic trade agenda covers a range of political leanings from tackling currency manipulation, which has been a bipartisan issue in the past, to “Buy America” policies that may appeal to the more liberal wing of the party and also has been touted by Trump.

The Democrats argue that their new proposals would reinvent the trading system and make it work better for U.S. workers ahead of big business, who they argue benefit the most from international trade.

Raising wages and creating jobs will require a major rewrite of “backward trade laws that have put foreign workers ahead of American workers,” Schumer said.

Trump talked tough on trade during the campaign, vowing to revive U.S. coal and steel industries while cracking down on China’s unfair trade polices, a message that clearly resonated with voters throughout the heartland.

On Wednesday, Schumer railed against China’s practices, arguing that trade policies must be put in place that stop Chinese companies from taking over vital American industries such as robotics, semiconductors and Hollywood move production. 

“It’s all over,” Schumer said. “We’ve got to stop it.”

"They do not play by the rules," Schumer said of China.

The Democratic agenda calls for the creation of the American Jobs Security Council that would evaluate and block, if necessary, the sale of a U.S. company to a foreign entity, notably China, if it is determined it hurts economic security and could lead to the theft of American intellectual property.

“China has made a profession of doing this,” Schumer said. “We’re not going to let them do it anymore.”

“We’re not opposed to foreign investment but we’re opposed to investment that only benefits the bottom line and leaves workers out in the cold,” he said.

Trump is considering a major trade action against Beijing while plans to slap higher tariffs on aluminum and steel from China on hold for now.

The U.S. Trade Representative is expected to probe the intellectual property protections practices of China that requires the sharing of technology that flows into the Communist country, according to news reports. 

Although nothing is expected soon, Trump could potentially use a "Section 301" case to impose duties on countries that break trade rules.

Trump has been signaling that he would punish China for what he considers a lack of action on reining in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

As part of the trade plan, Democrats are pressing for a renegotiation of the the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a step beyond the commitment made by the Trump administration and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The U.S., Mexico and Canada are expected to start NAFTA talks on Aug. 16 in Washington. Those discussions will be focused on updating the 23-year-old deal, not performing a wholesale overhaul.

There are likely some NAFTA policies that will mesh with Democratic goals, including stricter enforcement.

But any rework will likely fall short of a Democratic desire to fully renegotiate the deal.

In their plan, Democrats also are pressing for the implementation of an outsourcing tax on U.S. companies that move jobs and factories abroad, while creating tax incentives for companies that relocate foreign jobs back here.

Trump has promised to levy hefty new tariffs on products shipped into the United States by companies that move their operations to another country.

The plan also calls for an independent trade prosecutor, an idea floated by Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonO’Malley tells Dems not to fear Trump FBI informant gathered years of evidence on Russian push for US nuclear fuel deals, including Uranium One, memos show Pelosi blasts California Republicans for supporting tax bill MORE during the campaign, to challenge trade practices the U.S. views as unfair, without relying on the World Trade Organization process.

Democrats also are calling for new rules to penalize federal contractors that outsource manufacturing jobs. 

The agenda also would require taxpayer dollars to be spent on U.S. companies for all federal public works and infrastructure projects and current rules be revised to limit Buy America loopholes.