Democrats seek to reclaim trade from Trump

Democrats seek to reclaim trade from Trump
© Keren Carrion

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerManchin on reported boos at Democratic luncheon: 'I heard a lot of nos' Wisconsin GOP quietly prepares Ron Johnson backup plans Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE (N.Y.) said Democrats in both chambers of Congress will release a trade package in the next few months in an effort to seize the issue from President Trump.

Trump’s criticism of the Obama administration on trade issues, specifically the trade imbalance with China, helped him win traditionally Democratic states in the Midwest such as Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Schumer suggested trade was one of the top five reasons Trump beat Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote MORE in the 2016 election.

But he argued on Tuesday that Trump has failed to deliver on his promise to change the dynamic with China and dismissed the outcome of a recent meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping as accomplishing little.

“When it comes to China, President Trump has been all talk and no action,” Schumer said on a conference call with reporters.

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He said Trump could have easily designated China as a currency manipulator on his first day in office but didn’t do it.

Trump came home “empty-handed” from his meeting with Xi, Schumer charged, and waved away their agreement to create a 100-day plan to discuss trade issues as meaningless.

“Whenever we do anything in concert with the Chinese, we accomplish nothing to help American jobs,” Schumer said.

“One of the greatest promises you have broken to the American people who elected you,” he said in comments addressed to Trump, “was that you were going to get tough on China.”

“We Senate Democrats are willing to work with you to push back on the Chinese.” 

He said Trump should crack down on intellectual property theft by Chinese companies, declare China a currency manipulator, penalize China’s subsidization of certain commodities such as aluminum and pressure the Chinese government to allow American companies greater access to its domestic market.

He argued that getting tough with China on trade would put pressure on its leaders to rein in North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who has stirred fears in the region with recent missile tests.

Schumer said he expressed this message to Trump directly when they spoke by phone ahead of the meeting with Xi.

“I told him the tougher you are on one, the more likely you are to get on the other,” he said when recalling their conversation last Thursday.

Senate and House Democrats are expected to release a trade package in the coming weeks.

“We’re going to be coming up with a very strong trade package, much of it aimed at China,” Schumer said on the call. “We’re working on it in a way with many of the committees in the Senate that are involved and we’ve talked to the House about it.”

He said Democrats “are spending a lot of time” on a “strong, sharp-edged, bold” economic message.

“We hope to put it out late spring, early summer and we’re going to continually hammer away at it legislatively and out in the country for the next year and a half,” he said.