Trump tells Congress to ratify trade deal before dealing with infrastructure

By Eric Beech and David Shepardson WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump told Democratic leaders on Tuesday to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada trade pact before working on an infrastructure bill, a sign that crumbling roads and bridges are unlikely to get significant federal funding for repairs this year.

Reuters May 22, 2019 07:05:54 IST
Trump tells Congress to ratify trade deal before dealing with infrastructure

Trump tells Congress to ratify trade deal before dealing with infrastructure

By Eric Beech and David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump told Democratic leaders on Tuesday to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada trade pact before working on an infrastructure bill, a sign that crumbling roads and bridges are unlikely to get significant federal funding for repairs this year.

Trump's letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer comes before a scheduled meeting at the White House on Wednesday where Democrats were expected to detail how they would like to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure improvements.

Tensions are rising between the Republican president and Democrats who on Tuesday subpoenaed two more former White House aides in connection with a House committee's probe of whether the president obstructed Robert Mueller's inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

"Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal," Trump wrote.

Trump's administration negotiated a trade pact to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, but has yet to get Congress to approve it.

Last week, his administration announced it would remove U.S. tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminium, a major hurdle to the passage of the agreement, but a number of Democrats have expressed concerns about other parts of the deal.

"Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package," Trump wrote.

Spokesmen for Schumer and Pelosi did not immediately comment on Trump's letter.

Even before Trump's letter, any infrastructure bill already faced a tough road to approval as the White House has not agreed to raise taxes or enact new taxes to fund repairs. Trump waited until 2018 to outline an initial proposal that did not include new tax revenue. The proposal largely relied on private sector and state funding, and the plan was widely panned and never got a vote in the Republican-led Congress.

Trump met with Democratic lawmakers in April, where the group agreed to spend $2 trillion to repair and build the United States' aging roads, bridges, power grids, water and broadband infrastructure, but did not develop a plan on how to pay for such a package.

Trump suggested that Congress should use the surface transportation bill as "the best vehicle to achieve our goals" on infrastructure. The existing surface transportation law expires in September 2020 and Congress has added $140 billion from the general fund to make up for shortfalls in the highway trust fund over the last decade.

That September 2020 deadline makes it less likely Congress will act on infrastructure this year, two administration officials said Tuesday.

Trump's letter said congressional Democrats cancelled a scheduled meeting of their aides "preventing them from advancing our discussions. Nevertheless, I remain committed to passing an infrastructure bill."

(Reporting by Eric Beech and David Shepardson; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by David Alexander and Lisa Shumaker)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.