Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA

Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA
© Greg Nash

A majority of Senate Republicans are urging the Trump administration to work closely with lawmakers to ensure the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has enough support to win the approval of Congress.

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynGOP mulls having outside counsel question Kavanaugh, Ford Blumenthal: Kavanaugh nomination should be withdrawn Cornyn takes on O'Rourke over AR-15s MORE (R-Texas) and 31 of his GOP Senate colleagues sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerMcConnell urges GOP senators to call Trump about tariffs Companies brace for trade war MORE on Monday calling on him to avoid a "take it or leave it" strategy on the 24-year-old trade agreement. 

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“As you near the conclusion of NAFTA negotiations, we urge you to closely consider the parameters and negotiating objectives outlined in TPA [trade promotion authority] and work closely with members of Congress from both parties to ensure that any agreement has the broad support necessary to be enacted into law,” the Republican senators wrote.

“In our view, a take-it or leave-it strategy could have negative unintended effects that jeopardize American jobs and economic growth,” they wrote.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' MORE has repeatedly threatened to withdraw the United States from the deal with Mexico and Canada.

“We are concerned about recent media reports suggesting that you may be considering an ultimatum strategy to pressure Congress into accepting an updated NAFTA, including through threats to withdraw from the original agreement,” the senators wrote.

“In the past, you have suggested that your goal is to achieve overwhelming bipartisan support for a modernized NAFTA,” they wrote.

“We believe this goal is only achievable through a strategy to constructively engage Members of Congress as required by TPA and without attempting to force a choice between negative outcomes,” they wrote.

The senators used the letter to request Congress be closely involved in the process of determining the contents of trade agreements under fast-track rules.

They vowed to provide any help needed to reach a deal that will bolster the U.S. economy.

“When discussing NAFTA modernization legislation with Congress, we ask the administration employ a strategy that emphasizes collaboration, rather than conflict.”

Negotiators were pushing to finish a deal this month so that Congress could consider a new agreement before the end of the year. But they fell short of the target of May 17 set by Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanCorey Stewart fires aide who helped bring far-right ideas to campaign: report GOP super PAC hits Randy Bryce with ad starring his brother Super PACs spend big in high-stakes midterms MORE (R-Wis.).

Lighthizer said last week that even though the three countries are still nowhere near a deal, he intends to keep talking with Mexican and Canadian trade officials in an effort to update the agreement.

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