House Republicans on Tuesday called on President Trump to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) while urging caution on slapping tariffs on imports.
Nearly 30 GOP members, including the House Ways and Means Committee, met with Trump at the White House to discuss a wide range of pressing trade issues as negotiations continue this week on NAFTA.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said after the meeting that he plans to work with the president “to deliver a modernized NAFTA, one with tough obligations that are strictly enforced through effective and binding dispute settlement.”
Lawmakers have expressed concern over Trump’s repeated threats to withdraw the United States from the 24-year-old NAFTA deal with Mexico and Canada.
Republicans have been vocal about the importance of NAFTA to the U.S. economy and jobs.
Earlier on Tuesday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told reporters that he is concerned about Trump withdrawing from NAFTA.
“I’m concerned because we can’t afford that,” he said.
Senate and House GOP lawmakers also have asked the White House to tread carefully when determining whether to impose steel and aluminum tariffs for national security reasons.
“I’m also committed to working with the president on narrow and targeted remedies that address China’s distortions without hurting other U.S. industries and workers,” Brady said.
Trump has until April to decide whether to apply tariffs or quotas on the two metals.
During remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hatch said if Trump decides to level punishment on steel and aluminum importers, “the tactics we choose must be targeted directly at specific countries and specific practices.”
“For example, as the administration considers remedies under Sections 232 and 301, we must keep in mind that tariffs aren’t paid by foreigners,” he said.
“Tariffs are taxes paid by American businesses and American families, and new tariffs would jeopardize some of the opportunities we successfully created through tax reform.”
The White House said after the meeting that “among the topics discussed were the continued benefits the American people are seeing as a result of tax reform, the current renegotiating and modernizing of NAFTA and collective efforts to ensure that the United States no longer tolerates trade deals that undermine the principles of fair and reciprocal trade.”
Ways and Means Committee Subcommittee on Trade Chairman Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) said he wants to see the completion of an updated NAFTA while “holding China accountable for its unfair trade practices and overcapacity.”
He also urged the White House to collaborate with Congress on trade policy.
“I am committed to getting these issues right for my constituents and those around the country who rely on an enforceable, high-standard NAFTA and whose products require access to steel and aluminum,” he said.