Democrats Press Trump on Trade

January 05, 2017

House Democrats, relegated to the chamber's minority for a fourth consecutive Congress, are eyeing a drastic rewriting of the nation's trade policies as a potential area in which they can wield relevance in President-elect Donald Trump's new administration.

[David Catanese| January 3, 2017 |US News]

On the first day of the 115th Congress, a group of Democrats from a cross-section of the country signaled both an eagerness to partner with the incoming Republican president to realize one of his most prominent campaign promises and a willingness to aggressively hold his feet to the fire if he fails to follow through.

"If he truly wants to revise U.S. trade policy, he is going to have to come and work in a bipartisan manner to do that. It's always been a substantial majority of Democrats who oppose these agreements," Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon said at press conference Tuesday on Capitol Hill, where he was joined by nine of his colleagues.

At the top of the group's wish list is the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which Trump repeatedly blasted last year as "the worst trade deal in history." Negotiated under President George H.W. Bush and signed into law by President Bill Clinton, the trilateral agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada took effect in 1994 and was a favorite target of Trump, who ably linked his opponent, Hillary Clinton, to its problems.

Trump has pledged on his first day in office to begin the process of renegotiating NAFTA or withdrawing from it altogether, a proposition that sends chills down the spines of many pro-free trade Republicans but is being welcomed by a coalition of Democrats in the House, who even made it a point Tuesday to give Trump credit for properly reading the angst of their constituents.

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  • Al Foote
    Peter DeFazio is right – Mr. Trump needs him and his Democrats. I surely hope he embraces Peter’s group – and soon. Donald’s honeymoon with his party will be over soon enough after mutually embraced issues are legislated and put to bed. If jobs really are issue one, as in my book, then it would be better to have NAFTA in the mix of issues now to allow for an expanded number of legislative alternatives.