- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 21, 2019

President Trump told Democratic leaders Tuesday night that he wants Congress to approve his new trade deal with Canada and Mexico before he’ll agree to a plan of up to $2 trillion for rebuilding infrastructure.

The president’s letter, coming on the eve of a White House meeting with Democrats scheduled for Wednesday morning, said it’s unclear what Democrats’ priorities are for spending on roads, bridges, mass transit, rural broadband and other needs.

“Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal,” Mr. Trump wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, using the acronym for the agreement.

“This path-breaking deal, already agreed to by the governments of Canada and Mexico, will boost employment growth and create millions of high-paying jobs. It will benefit farmers, manufacturing workers, unions, and businesses throughout our great union,” he wrote.

The administration agreed with Canada and Mexico last week to rescind tariffs on steel, aluminum and other products. Lawmakers in both parties said the action made it more likely for Congress to approve the trade deal, which would replace the 1990s-era North American Free Trade Agreement.

After Congress passes the trade deal, Mr. Trump said, “we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package.”

Three weeks ago, Democratic leaders and the president reached a tentative agreement on an infrastructure package of up to $2 trillion. They agreed to meet again to figure out how to pay for it.

But the White House has concerns about another massive spending bill and Mr. Trump’s letter makes clear that he wants to put the plan on hold, and use it as leverage to pass his cherished trade deal.

“It would be helpful if you came to tomorrow’s meeting with your infrastructure priorities and specifics regarding how much funding you would dedicate to each,” he told Democrats.

“I had hoped that we could have worked out these priorities following our last meeting, but you cancel the scheduled meeting of our teams, preventing them from advancing our discussions. Nevertheless, I remain committed to passing an infrastructure bill.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide