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Most Ohio Congress members want more details on Trump’s Mexico trade deal before signing on

August 27, 2018

Most Ohio Congress members want more details on Trump’s Mexico trade deal before signing on

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ohio members of Congress on Monday expressed cautious optimism about a new trade deal that President Donald Trump announced with Mexico, but most said they’ll need to scrutinize its details before deciding whether to support it.

Trump held a joint phone call with Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto to announce a bilateral deal to replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with an agreement that Trump described as “a really good deal for both countries.”

Both said they hoped the United States would be able to resolve any differences with Canada, so the agreement would include all three countries.

“A lot of people thought we’d never get here because we all negotiate tough,” Trump said. “We do, and so does Mexico.  And this is a tremendous thing.”

But the pair didn’t release specifics of the deal during their call, and administration officials including U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were only slightly less vague during a subsequent phone call with reporters.

Look forward to reviewing the details but pleased to see today’s breakthrough on trade w/ #Mexico. As I’ve said many times, I believe we must do more to open markets to US products, vigorously enforce our trade laws & protect American #jobs.— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) August 27, 2018

They did say it provides more detailed rules of origin for automobiles that would “be much better for the region and for the United States,” that it contains “completely enforceable” labor requirements, and that it will set new, high-level standards in areas like digital trade and financial services.

“With respect to the United States and Mexico, we have an agreement that is absolutely terrific,” Lighthizer told reporters. “I think it is fair to say we’ll do a rebalancing. I think it’s going to lead to more jobs for American workers and farmers, but also more jobs for workers and farmers from Mexico. ”

Most Ohio members of Congress said they’ll need more information about what’s in the agreement before deciding whether to support it.

Sen. Rob Portman - an Ohio Republican who held Lighthizer’s job when George W. Bush was president - said he looks forward to reviewing the agreement’s details, but is “pleased to see that there has been a breakthrough.”

“As I’ve said many times, I believe we must more vigorously enforce our trade laws and protect American jobs,” said a statement from Portman, who voted to approve the NAFTA agreement when he was a U.S. House of Representatives member in 1993.

I applaud @realDonaldTrump for following through with yet another promise by delivering a fairer & more reciprocal trading relationship with Mexico. I look forward to further reviewing the agreement & continuing to work to achieve better trade deals for Ohio workers & families.— Rep. Jim Renacci (@RepJimRenacci) August 27, 2018

 

Sen. Sherrod Brown - a longtime NAFTA critic who opposed the agreement as a U.S. House of Representatives member - called the tentative pact with Mexico “an important step forward.” But he said he needs to review its text, which the White House has not yet revealed, and that he’s collaborating with Lighthizer to ensure “every detail is right for Ohio workers.”

“We still have a lot of work to do to bring Canada on board and write the legislation needed to make any deal a reality,” said a statement from the Ohio Democrat.

U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth, a Republican running against Brown in November’s election, was more sanguine about the announcement. Trump has endorsed Renacci’s senate campaign, and Renacci has courted Trump supporters throughout the state.

“I applaud President Trump for following through with yet another promise by delivering a fairer and more reciprocal trading relationship with Mexico,” said a statement from Renacci. “Today, the U.S. and Mexico reached a tentative agreement that will put in place stronger labor standards, allow for more agricultural trade, and will provide more opportunities for U.S. businesses to succeed. I look forward to further reviewing the agreement and continuing to work closely with the President to achieve better trade deals for Ohio workers and families.” 

GOP Rep. Bob Gibbs of Holmes County was also enthused, calling the deal “another piece of great news for American workers.” He released a statement that applauded Trump’s efforts “to renegotiate and modernize NAFTA to benefit American workers,” and encouraged Canada to work with the United States to finalize a deal.

Congress must have its say on this Administration’s #NAFTA. Simply, any new North American trade agreement must raise wages and create a level playing field across the board. I look forward to reviewing the details in the weeks to come.My full statement: https://t.co/B39wghnKhq pic.twitter.com/Y6o2gZ4ytO— Marcy Kaptur (@RepMarcyKaptur) August 27, 2018

 

“Tax cuts and regulatory reform have spurred incredible economic growth and put millions of Americans back to work,” Gibbs’ statement said. “Breaking down trade barriers and making sure other countries play by the rules will make it easier to export American-made products, allowing our nation’s workers, the best in the world, to compete on a level playing field in the global market.”

Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, who joined Brown in voting against NAFTA, said “the details and the fine print of the new agreement with Mexico matter more than a hasty self-proclaimed victory.” She said she’s eager to see whether Trump and his team “lived up to the promises he made to America’s workers in his 2016 campaign.” 

“We must end the job outsourcing bonanza that has taken hold since NAFTA’s passage,” said a statement from Kaptur. “As someone who fought with all I had to prevent NAFTA’s passage and the trauma it wrought on American workers, I know the devil is in the details. I look forward to reviewing the details of this agreement as well as the issues that remain with Canadian negotiators in the days and weeks to come.”

Niles Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan agreed with Kaptur that any new deal must raise wages, protect workers’ rights and freedoms, cut back outsourcing, and put the interests of working families ahead of international corporations in all three countries.

“As a member of Congress, one of my principal responsibilities is to ensure the American economy is inclusive and does not leave hardworking families behind,” said a statement from Ryan. “I look forward to reviewing the text of this initial agreement, and will continue to pressure the administration to achieve a strong, trilateral agreement that puts workers in the United States, Mexico, and Canada first.”

Ryan and Kaptur’s concerns echoed those expressed in a joint statement from the presidents of the United Steelworkers, AFL-CIO, UAW, Communications Workers, and International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers unions, which said NAFTA has had a “devastating impact on workers.”

“We are aggressively engaged in pursuing an agreement that works for working people in all three countries, and we are not done yet,” said their statement. “There is more work that needs to be done to deliver the needed, real solutions to NAFTA’s deeply ingrained flaws.”

The Business Roundtable was less eager to ditch the old deal, issuing a statement that argued separate deals with Mexico and Canada would “create more regulatory burdens, disrupt North American supply chains and hurt U.S. workers and businesses. Any effort to withdraw from NAFTA altogether would endanger millions of U.S. jobs and harm the competitiveness of U.S. companies.”

“In modernizing NAFTA, the touchstone of success is whether changes improve – rather than weaken – NAFTA for U.S. workers and businesses,” the organization’s statement said. “Business Roundtable has concerns that today’s announcement might signal not an improvement, but rather a step backward by requiring a sunset provision, weakening investment protections and constraining access to dispute settlement procedures. Any final agreement with Mexico and Canada should expand trade, not restrict it.”

(1/4) As a member of Congress, one of my principle responsibilities is to ensure the American economy is inclusive and does not leave hardworking families behind. There’s no question that over its 25 year history NAFTA has hurt American workers and industries.— Congressman Tim Ryan (@RepTimRyan) August 27, 2018

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