CEO group organizes DC blitz for new NAFTA deal

CEO group organizes DC blitz for new NAFTA deal
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An association of CEOs from major U.S. corporations is making a personal pitch to lawmakers on Capitol Hill to approve President TrumpDonald John TrumpNYT publisher: US didn't step in to protect reporter from arrest in Egypt so paper turned to Ireland Trump instructed administration to withhold military aid for Ukraine days before call with president: report More Democrats threaten impeachment over Trump's dealings with Ukraine MORE's revised North American trade deal.

The Business Roundtable (BRT) led a group of about 100 business community leaders around Capitol Hill on Wednesday and Thursday, as part of an effort by the USMCA Coalition, a broad alliance pushing to secure passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“It was a great group, we had really all sectors of the economy, a range of companies and associations of all sizes,” Paul DeLaney, BRT’s vice president of trade and international, told The Hill.

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He noted there were representatives from companies that work in a number of industries, including commodities, telecommunications, software, manufacturers, technology and chemicals.

“As a group collectively, it’s a powerful message we can share about how all these different industries and commodities can come together to emphasize how important our trade with Canada and Mexico is to their bottom line and then also how the USMCA modernizes NAFTA,” DeLaney said, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which USMCA would replace.

He said the meetings with lawmakers were very positive and encouraging. 

“We met with New Dems, we met with Blue Dogs, we met with the House Working Group, we met with Republicans, we met with border states. It was a really diverse group of members, and that was intentional,” he said.

DeLaney added there was a focus on Democrats and on freshmen from both sides of the aisle. 

“I think the folks who participated felt good about those discussions and continuing those discussions so we can keep moving the ball forward,” DeLaney said. 

President Trump signed the revised trade deal in November, setting off a six-month timeline for Congress to take up the pact. Trump has given his required 30-day notice that he intends to submit the deal to Congress.

Democrats are negotiating with the administration for changes to the agreement, seeking tougher environmental and labor protections.

But supporters worry that time is running short. The administration had hoped to get approval before the August deadline. Lawmakers now face a shorter window before attention shifts to the 2020 election.

Updated at 3:53 p.m.