Lighthizer starts GOP charm offensive on Trump trade deal

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U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerPelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House On The Money: Economy adds 164K jobs in July | Trump signs two-year budget deal, but border showdown looms | US, EU strike deal on beef exports MORE briefed Republican lawmakers on Tuesday about President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE‘s trade deal with Mexico and Canada, as the administration works to sell the agreement on Capitol Hill.

The phone conversations came as House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiHouse Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Impeachment witness to meet with Senate GOP Tuesday Press: Pelosi strikes back, hatred is a sin MORE (D-Calif.) announced they had reached a long-awaited agreement on the trade deal — known as the USMCA — which is intended to replace the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Lighthizer, who is headed to Mexico to sign the deal, spoke with House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseTrump: Fox News ‘panders’ to Democrats by having on liberal guests Republicans disavow GOP candidate who said ‘we should hang’ Omar Nunes accuses Democrats of promoting ‘conspiracy theories’ MORE (R-La.), along with Ways and Means Ranking Member Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyBottom line House GOP unveils alternative drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (R-Texas).

“Ambassador Lighthizer called in to brief the USMCA Whip Group and Ways and Means Republicans Members on the agreement reached on USMCA. …He outlined some of the key changes agreed to with Mexico and Canada, which include stepped up enforcement on labor and the environment,” a spokeswoman for Scalise said.

Lighthizer also spoke with Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, senators told The Hill.

“We had some this morning already via conference call,” said Sen. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP senators worry Trump made ‘problematic’ concessions in trade deal On The Money: White House, Dems edge closer to trade deal | GOP worries about Trump concessions | DOJ argues Congress can’t sue Trump on emoluments | Former Fed chief Volcker dies Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown MORE (R-S.D.), the No. 2 GOP senator, when asked about the briefing.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyBottom line Graham: FBI investigation in 2016 turned into a ‘criminal conspiracy’ House GOP unveils alternative drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote MORE (R-Iowa) said his full panel would be briefed on Thursday, but that GOP members held a conference call with Lighthizer on Tuesday.

“We had a phone conference with him. …They gave us a general overview but this was Republican members,” Grassley said

He added that he would defer to Lighthizer on whether or not he wants to brief parties separately or together on Thursday.

The preliminary talks with Lighthizer come after two members of GOP leadership signaled on Monday night that there was concern among Republicans that Trump made “problematic” concessions to Democrats as part of the talks.

“I just hope he hasn’t gone too far in Speaker Pelosi’s direction, and the AFL-CIO’s direction that he might lose some support here,” said Sen. John CornynJohn CornynHouston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence GOP senators worry Trump made ‘problematic’ concessions in trade deal On The Money: White House, Dems edge closer to trade deal | GOP worries about Trump concessions | DOJ argues Congress can’t sue Trump on emoluments | Former Fed chief Volcker dies MORE (R-Texas). “My concern is that what the administration presented has now been moved demonstrably to Democrats, the direction that they wanted.”

Thune added that “some of the things that we’re hearing would be, yeah, would be I think problematic.”

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