Lighthizer starts GOP charm offensive on Trump trade deal

Lighthizer starts GOP charm offensive on Trump trade deal
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U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE briefed Republican lawmakers on Tuesday about President TrumpDonald John TrumpWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Coronavirus hits defense contractor jobs Wake up America, your country doesn't value your life MORE’s trade deal with Mexico and Canada, as the administration works to sell the agreement on Capitol Hill.

The phone conversations came as House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on Attacking the Affordable Care Act in the time of COVID-19 DC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill MORE (D-Calif.) announced they had reached a long-awaited agreement on the trade deal — known as the USMCA —  which is intended to replace the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). 

Lighthizer, who is headed to Mexico to sign the deal, spoke with House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScalisePelosi scrambles to secure quick passage of coronavirus aid House GOP whip team seeks to get Republicans behind Senate coronavirus bill 14 things to know today about coronavirus MORE (R-La.), along with Ways and Means Committee ranking member Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyPelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing Democrat refuses to yield House floor, underscoring tensions on coronavirus vote Democratic leaders say trillion stimulus will pass House on Friday MORE (R-Texas).

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“Ambassador Lighthizer called in to brief the USMCA Whip Group and Ways and Means Republicans Members on the agreement reached on USMCA. ... He outlined some of the key changes agreed to with Mexico and Canada, which include stepped up enforcement on labor and the environment,” a spokeswoman for Scalise said.

Lighthizer also spoke with Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, senators told The Hill.

“We had some this morning already via conference call,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneTrump's magical thinking won't stop the coronavirus pandemic Lawmakers brace for more coronavirus legislation after trillion bill The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 GOP senator, when asked about the briefing. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyCoronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner Lobbying blitz yields wins for airlines, corporations, banks, unions Chances for drug pricing, surprise billing action fade until November MORE (R-Iowa) said his full panel would be briefed on Thursday, but that GOP members held a conference call with Lighthizer on Tuesday. 

“We had a phone conference with him. ... They gave us a general overview, but this was Republican members,” Grassley said

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He added that he would defer to Lighthizer on whether to brief parties separately or together on Thursday. 

The preliminary talks with Lighthizer come after two members of GOP leadership signaled on Monday night that there was concern among Republicans that Trump made “problematic” concessions to Democrats as part of the talks. 

"I just hope he hasn't gone too far in Speaker Pelosi's direction, and the AFL-CIO's direction that he might lose some support here," said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynLawmakers already planning more coronavirus stimulus after T package Cuban says he'd spank daughter if she was partying during coronavirus pandemic Twitter comes under fire over Chinese disinformation on coronavirus MORE (R-Texas). "My concern is that what the administration presented has now been moved demonstrably to Democrats, the direction that they wanted." 

Thune added that "some of the things that we're hearing would be, yeah, would be, I think, problematic.”