Pro-trade GOP senators to urge Trump to stay in NAFTA

A group of pro-trade Republican senators will caution President Donald Trump against withdrawing from the North American Free Trade Agreement during a meeting at the White House on Tuesday, according to multiple people familiar with the meeting.

The meeting comes as the threat of a possible U.S. withdrawal hangs over ongoing negotiations with Canada and Mexico over the pact. U.S. officials have taken a hard line in the latest round of talks that just wrapped up in Mexico, raising concerns that the negotiations could collapse and Trump could pull out.

Six senators are slated to attend the Tuesday afternoon lunch with the president, according to a list provided by a White House official: Deb Fischer of Nebraska, Joni Ernst of Iowa, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

Chief of staff John Kelly, United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and legislative affairs director Marc Short are also scheduled to attend the meeting.

The senators are expected to tout the benefits of NAFTA directly to the president, while warning that withdrawing could have dire economic consequences for the United States, according to one person involved in planning the meeting.

A White House spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Trump vowed as far back as the presidential campaign to withdraw from NAFTA if he couldn’t get a better deal. The president almost signed an executive order in April that would have pulled the United States out of the pact, but Republican lawmakers and senior members of his administration persuaded him to back off, warning of consequences for the U.S. agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

But as negotiations over NAFTA have floundered, the president has maintained that he could jump-start the talks by beginning the process of withdrawing.

Source: POLITICO – TOP Stories