Lighthizer starts GOP charm offensive on Trump trade deal

Lighthizer starts GOP charm offensive on Trump trade deal
© Getty Images

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 TrumpWarren: Dershowitz presentation 'nonsensical,' 'could not follow it' Bolton told Barr he was concerned Trump did favors for autocrats: report Dershowitz: Bolton allegations would not constitute impeachable offense 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 PelosiHouse passes bill aimed at bolstering Holocaust education Hillicon Valley — Presented by Philip Morris International — NFL social media accounts hacked | Dem questions border chief over controversial Facebook group | Clinton says Zuckerberg has 'authoritarian' views Meadows: Republicans who break with Trump could face political repercussions 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 ScaliseThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump trial begins with clashes, concessions Cheney's decision not to run for Senate sparks Speaker chatter Trump welcomes LSU to the White House: 'Go Tigers' MORE (R-La.), along with Ways and Means Committee ranking member Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyConservative groups aim to sink bipartisan fix to 'surprise' medical bills Trump economic aide says new tax proposal could be unveiled this summer Hoyer: Democratic chairmen trying to bridge divide on surprise medical bills MORE (R-Texas).

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 ThuneRepublicans show little enthusiasm for impeachment witness swap Overnight Defense: US military jet crashes in Afghanistan | Rocket attack hits US embassy in Baghdad | Bolton bombshell rocks impeachment trial Bolton upends Trump impeachment trial  MORE (S.D.), the No. 2 GOP senator, when asked about the briefing. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyTax season could bring more refund confusion Graham vows Biden, Ukraine probe after impeachment trial Social security emerges as latest flash point in Biden-Sanders tussle 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

ADVERTISEMENT

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 CornynBolton sparks internal GOP fight over witnesses Trump legal team begins second day of arguments under Bolton furor Trump legal team offers brisk opening defense of president 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.”