It’s been reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer on Wednesday. Their meeting is scheduled just one day after President Trump was harshly criticized by fellow Republicans who believe that a trade war with China would severely harm the farmers in Middle America.
According to sources that spoke with Politico, Pelosi and Lighthizer are supposed to discuss Trump’s new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, but it’s expected that they’ll also be talking about the tariff battle between China and the U.S. While speaking to reporters on Monday, Nancy Pelosi said: “I wish him success in the negotiation, but as I say, we have to use our leverage without antagonizing those who are on our side on this.”
Pelosi wouldn’t consider the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement), the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, until the demands of the Democrats were satisfied. According to Politico, this includes the addition of enforcement measures.
Lighthizer had apparently agreed to the meeting with Pelosi to make the House Democrats happy, but the administration has absolutely refused to reconsider negotiations with Mexico and Canada. There are also several Senate Republicans who have refused to sign the trade deal until Trump has lifted the tariffs on steel and aluminum in Canada and Mexico.
The president continues to gain criticism from both sides of Congress, especially once the U.S. began to increase the tariffs from 10 percent to 25 percent on $200 billion in goods from China last week. On Monday, the stock market suffered its worst one-day performance in months.
When it comes to trade, it appears that the White House is losing its grasp on Congress, as several of the GOP senators spoke out against the president on Tuesday. According to the Washington Post, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley said: “I’m not sure if you talk to him face to face, he hears everything you say.”
According to the Post, Republican senators in the Farm Belt are receiving angry calls from constituents who are complaining that the farmers are getting caught in the crossfire of the battle between China and the U.S. “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.
Pork producers, soybean farmers, and a number of agricultural producers are complaining that their profit margins are suffering at the hands of the president’s trade dealings with China. On Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted: “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. This money will come from the massive tariffs being paid to the United States for allowing China, and others, to do business with us.”
According to the Post, Senate Republicans are looking for a way to provide the farmers with a taxpayer bailout. This is in case the tariffs cause a major crisis to the agricultural industry before Trump’s meeting with the President of China Xi Jinping in Japan next month.
Ultimately, Nancy Pelosi has the power to determine the outcome of Trump’s trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. She could also capitalize on the “growing congressional discontent” with President Trump by pushing the vote until the heat of the 2020 debate.