Trade official Robert Lighthizer is expected to try to calm concerns from Senate Republicans at their lunch Thursday.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer will brief Senate Republicans about the new North American trade deal at their lunch Thursday, amid mounting concerns that the deal is too liberal, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
Lighthizer’s visit signals the White House is seeking to avoid a Republican rebellion on what would be a signature accomplishment for President Donald Trump in his first term. Earlier in the day, Lighthizer delivered a briefing to Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees trade policy.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the White House announced earlier this week that they had reached an agreement on the landmark trade deal after months of negotiation. But some Republicans are worried about its provisions, particularly after an endorsement from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) has already said he will not support the agreement, calling it a “terrible new standard” for future trade agreements.
Other Republican senators are not ruling out supporting the trade deal they have long called for. But they have nevertheless expressed skepticism about the final product. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared dissatisfied. When asked Tuesday at a news conference about the deal’s substance, the GOP leader said “it’s not as good as I had hoped.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Tuesday that Lighthizer has “just been talking to Speaker Pelosi and the Democrats.” Cornyn added he is worried about “some of the things that he had to do in order to get the endorsement of Mr. Trumka.”
Still, most Republicans are likely to back the deal in the end and GOP supporters are confident it will be approved.
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