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Grassley: Despite Reservations In Congress, President May Push Through Trade Deal

John Pemble / IPR file
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) says the president has the power to push Congress to approve a new trade deal. Grassley has previously said lawmakers have given the president too much power over trade negotiations.

Some members of Congress aren’t on board with the Trump administration’s new trade dealwith Canada and Mexico. But Iowa’s senior U.S. Senator says the president may force their vote. 

President Donald Trump needs Congress to approve the new NAFTA agreement, known as the USMCA. Signed by the leaders of Mexico and Canada, it’s meant to lower trade barriers between the countries.

Some House Democratssay they want more attention paid to union workers and environmental protection, and could stall the plan from moving through the chamber.

According to reporting by NPR, the president has said he'll force lawmakers to choose between new NAFTA or no NAFTA.

"Congress will have a choice of the USMCA or pre-NAFTA," Trump said.

Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says it's within the president's power to force lawmakers' hand. 

“[If] the president says, which he can under the existing NAFTA agreement, 'We're just going to pull out of it!' It seems to me it puts big pressure on Democrats to go along with what the president’s negotiated. Because surely no Democrat wants to pull out of NAFTA and go back to the high tariffs we had and the impediments we had to trade, pre-NAFTA,” Grassley said.

Grassley says there are benefits to the deal, including incentive car manufacturers to use more North American-produced components, and setting a $16 an hour minimum wage for certain auto workers.

"I think on the economic issues, Democrats should not have any problems with it," Grassley said.

But Grassley has said he thinks the president has too much powerover trade negotiations, and Congress should take some of it back.

Kate Payne was an Iowa City-based Reporter