Friday, May 03, 2019

GOP senators say NAFTA replacement dead unless steel and aluminum tariffs are; old deal could remain in place

"Top Republican senators told President Donald Trump he has a choice to make on trade: Lose the steel and aluminum tariffs that led to a wave of retaliatory duties on U.S. ag products, or forget about using the new NAFTA deal as a signature achievement during your re-election campaign," Helena Bottemiller Evich reports for Politico.

Unless Trump drops the steel and aluminum tariffs, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement won't have enough votes to pass the G.O.P.-controlled Senate, the six Republican senators threatened. The senators include Chuck Grassley of Iowa, John Thune of South Dakota, and Johnny Isakson of Georgia, all states with heavy agricultural interests, Evich reports.

If the deal fails, the North American Free Trade Agreement would remain in place, "which is what many in both parties wanted anyway," Bloomberg News reports. Trump Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney "urged Speaker Nancy Pelosi to put the new trade plan on the House floor as is, claiming that it would have the votes," Jonathan Bernstein writes. "The problem is that pressuring Pelosi publicly, and generally turning ratification of the deal into a partisan contest, is a clear losing strategy given that Democrats have the majority in the House: The more Donald Trump and the White House do to divide by party on this trade deal, the deader it will be. At the same time, Mulvaney opened the door on just sticking with Nafta if the new deal doesn’t get approved, contrary to the president’s threats to attempt to unilaterally pull out of the existing deal. That would certainly appear to take most of the pressure off everyone in Congress."

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