Republican lawmakers are concerned about where President Trump is headed on trade and are asking who in the administration is in charge of policies that could affect their home-state economies.
Their biggest worries are what will replace the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the largest trade deal in U.S. history until it was scrapped by President Trump — and the future of NAFTA, which the president has called “the single worst trade deal in history.”
Trump talked tough on trade during the campaign, pledging to renegotiate deals that he said have ripped off American workers. But many lawmakers on Capitol Hill are confused about what comes next amid crosstalk from different voices in the administration.
Another trade-related concern is Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) push for a 20-percent across-the-board tax on imports that some Republicans fear could play havoc with export markets. The Trump administration has sent mixed signals on that idea as well.
Texas, the most populous Republican state in the country, is heavily dependent on trade with Mexico; a trade war could cause significant disruptions to its economy.
“I talked to group of people from Texas today, from San Antonio, and I said the two things that concern me the most about the Texas economy are the negotiation of NAFTA and the border adjustment tax,” Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn (Texas) told reporters this past week.
“There’s some uncertainty about the direction of the administration,” Cornyn added in a later interview. “For my state it’s a big deal, and I would argue it’s also a big deal for the country. Six million American jobs depend on bi-national trade with Mexico alone.”
A group of Republican senators met privately with two Trump administration officials on Tuesday: Peter Navarro, who heads the White House office on trade and industrial policy, and Jason Greenblatt, the administration’s special representative for international negotiations.
The administration officials laid our four broad goals and a 13-point agenda for trade, but lawmakers were left with questions. They want to know what concrete progress is being made to negotiate bilateral trade deals to replace the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Trump pulled out of shortly after taking office.
“I’m not sure where they’re going,” said Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the third-ranking member of the GOP leadership, who attended the meeting. “They clearly have a different view on some of these trade matters than has been the sort of traditional Republican trade view on Capitol Hill.”
Source: The Hill
Published: February 4, 2023