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

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Fed pick Moore says he will drop out if he becomes a 'political problem' | Trump vows to fight 'all the subpoenas' | Deutsche Bank reportedly turning Trump records over to NY officials | Average tax refund down 2 percent Poll: About half of voters say Congress should focus on getting Trump's tax returns The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? 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 TrumpForget the spin: Five unrefuted Mueller Report revelations Lara Trump: Merkel admitting migrants 'one of the worst things that ever happened to Germany' Financial satisfaction hits record high: survey 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.


“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 WarrenColbert links large 2020 Dem field to Avengers: 'A group of every available person in the universe' Seven big decisions facing Biden in 2020 primary Sanders dominates, Buttigieg surges in 2020 social media battle MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersElection analyst says Biden could face uphill battle attracting small-dollar donors Gillibrand 'not worried' about being 'discounted' in 2020 race Biden's sloppy launch may cost him MORE (I-Vt.) have vowed to oppose the deal, while Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDems plot aggressive post-Mueller moves, beginning with McGahn Senate Republicans tested on Trump support after Mueller Cuban negotiator says Trump's efforts to destabilize Cuba's government will fail 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.