- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2018

Some of the conservative movement’s biggest names urged President Trump Thursday to use NAFTA negotiations as a way to get around a Democratic filibuster and push through major cuts to government regulations.

In a letter to the president, the conservatives urged him to tuck the REINS Act, which would give Congress a veto over any new major Executive Branch regulations, inside a newly negotiated North American Free Trade Agreement.

Including it in NAFTA would allow Congress to pass the REINS Act on a majority vote, thanks to the fast-track trade negotiating powers Congress gave to the executive branch in 2015.

That would give Republicans a chance to circumvent Democrats, who have threatened to filibuster to block the REINS Act should it come up as a stand-alone bill.

The NAFTA tactic could prove enticing for Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly demanded the Senate scratch its filibuster rules, which have given Democrats a veto over much of the White House agenda.

“We endorse this strategy,” the two dozen conservative leaders said in their letter to Mr. Trump. “Incorporating this package into NAFTA would allow you to submit it to the Senate under fast-track Trade Promotion Authority, protected from filibuster.”

The REINS Act — whose full title is Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny — has been a major goal for pro-business Republicans.

It would give Congress a more direct say in any regulations the administrative state writes that would sap the economy.

The REINS Act cleared the House last year on a near-party line vote. But it has stalled in the Senate, where Democrats have more than enough votes to filibuster it.

Among those signing Thursday’s letter at Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist, Club for Growth President David McIntosh, Competitive Enterprise Institute Vice President Wayne Crews and Citizens Against Government Waste President Thomas A. Schatz.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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