House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is reportedly scheduled to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Wednesday, a day after President Trump received harsh criticism from fellow Republicans who claim a trade war with China would drastically hurt farmers in Middle America.
Pelosi and Lighthizer are set to discuss the president’s new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, but the topic of the U.S. and China’s tariff battle will likely come up in the conversation, two Democratic sources first told Politico.
“I wish him success in the negotiation,” Pelosi told reporters Monday, referring to Trump’s tactics with China. “But as I say, we have to use our leverage without antagonizing those who are on our side on this.”
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Pelosi refused to consider the USMCA, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, until Democrat demands are satisfied, including the addition of enforcement measures, Politico reported. (USMCA stands for United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.)
Lighthizer reportedly agreed to the meeting to appease House Democrats, but the administration has refused to reopen negotiations with its neighbors to the north and south. Several Senate Republicans have also refused to sign the trade deal until Trump removes steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico.
The president faces growing opposition on both sides in Congress after the U.S. began increasing tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion in Chinese goods last week. China retaliated by increasing tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, and the stock market suffered its worst one-day performance in months Monday.
The White House is seemingly losing its grasp on Congress regarding trade, as several GOP senators spoke out against the president on Tuesday regarding his controversial agenda.
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“I’m not sure if you talk to him face to face, he hears everything you say,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, regarding the president’s failed negotiation with China last week, according to the Washington Post.
Republican senators from the Farm Belt are fielding calls from angry constituents who say farmers are getting caught in the crossfire between the U.S. and China, the Post reported.
“Ultimately, nobody wins a trade war unless there is an agreement at the end, after which tariffs go away,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Soybean farmers, pork producers and a growing number of other agricultural interests, including cherry producers, corn growers and lobstermen, have complained of hurting profit margins as a result of the president’s trade dealings with China.
“Hopefully China will do us the honor of continuing to buy our great farm product, the best, but if not your Country will be making up the difference based on a very high China buy,” Trump said during an early morning tweetstorm Tuesday in an attempt to reassure the public. “This money will come from the massive Tariffs being paid to the United States for allowing China, and others, to do business with us.”
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Meanwhile, Senate Republicans are looking for ways to provide farmers with a taxpayer bailout should the tariffs impose a critical effect on the U.S. agricultural industry before President’s Trump’s scheduled meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping in Japan next month, the Post reported.
Pelosi has the power to determine the fate of Trump’s trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, and could capitalize on growing congressional discontent with the president by pushing the vote past its summer deadline until the heat of 2020 debate.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw contributed to this report.