Mnuchin urges Congress to pass Trump's new NAFTA without changes

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinHillicon Valley: Facebook weighs crackdown on anti-vaccine content | Lyft challenges Trump fuel standards rollback | Illinois tries to woo Amazon | New round of China trade talks next week On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week Treasury sanctions top Maduro allies in Venezuela MORE on Tuesday dismissed bipartisan criticism of the Trump administration’s renegotiated North American trade pact and urged Congress to pass the deal without changes.

Mnuchin told Fox Business Network that President TrumpDonald John TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview MORE expects Congress to approve an updated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as written and would terminate the original deal if lawmakers refuse.

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“This is a great deal and there’s people who will want to make this a political issue,” Mnuchin said Tuesday. “People who think they can micromanage the deal for political reasons because they don’t want to support the president, you know that’s a bad strategy.”

Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and former Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Saturday signed the NAFTA rewrite, called the “United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” (USMCA) which was finalized in September.

While Trump and his top aides boasted of fulfilling a major agenda item, the deal will not be official until it’s approved by legislatures in all three countries. Democrats and a handful of Republicans have denounced the new NAFTA, threatening its chance for passage in Congress.

Critics say the deal makes few changes from NAFTA without including strong enough labor and environmental protections. Free-trade skeptics Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems introduce bill to prevent Trump from using disaster funds to build wall Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSenate Dems introduce bill to prevent Trump from using disaster funds to build wall Klobuchar, O'Rourke visit Wisconsin as 2020 race heats up Sherrod Brown pushes for Medicare buy-in proposal in place of 'Medicare for all' MORE (I-Vt.) have vowed to oppose the deal, while Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio in Colombia to push for delivery of humanitarian aid to Venezuela On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE (R-Fla.) expressed concerns about a lack of agricultural provisions.

Trump has sought to ramp up pressure on Congress to approve the new pact by pledging to cancel NAFTA, forcing holdouts to choose between his deal or none at all.

“If it’s not passed he’s going to terminate the existing agreement. So, for those who think they can get a better agreement, this is a very, very good agreement," Mnuchin said. He touted updates to agricultural, automobile, intellectual property and financial serviced provisions.

“This is a big change and people who say this is just NAFTA 2.0 don’t understand the details,” he said.

The showdown between the administration and Congress comes as the White House seeks an end to growing trade tensions with China. Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday and on Monday touted a tentative agreement with Beijing to ease tariffs.

Hopes of a trade truce fell apart Tuesday, though, when Trump warned China that he was a “Tariff Man” and would respond aggressively without concessions from Beijing. The stock market tumbled in response to Trump’s declaration and new indications of an economic slowdown.