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Michigan Democrats Warn President Trump to Work With Congress on NAFTA Renegotiation

As President Donald Trump begins moving to fulfill a campaign promise by renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), several Michigan Democrats are warning him to work closely with Congress in the effort.

On May 18, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer informed Congress that the White House was preparing to enter into negotiations with Mexican and Canadian officials on the agreement, kicking off a 90-day consultation process before talks with our neighboring nations are scheduled, MLive.com reported.

The renegotiation of NAFTA, first signed in 1993 by President Bill Clinton (though President George H.W. Bush had a big hand in the negotiations), was an oft-repeated promise made by the president as he ran for office last year and played a key role in his election.

But a group of Michigan Democrats is warning Trump to consult with Congress before he moves forward. Michigan Democrats Rep. Debbie Dingell, Sandy Levin, Debbie Stabenow, Dan Kildee, and Republican Dave Trott all want Trump to carefully consider the needs of American workers.

Rep. Dingell, for instance, warns that the deal should not be “negotiated in secret.”

“If special interests dictate how NAFTA is renegotiated, the new deal could become more damaging for working families,” Dingell said in a Thursday statement. “We need to ensure that detailed negotiating goals are issued, and that draft text is available after each negotiating round so the American people can determine how the policies will impact their families.”

In his own statement, Rep. Levin worried over labor practices in Mexico. He said that Trump needs to be wary of the unfair playing field.

Rep. Stabenow said that a re-negotiation is “long overdue” and insisted, “we need to make sure that any changes to NAFTA lead to an improvement in our quality of life and higher incomes, not a race to the bottom.”

For his part, Rep. Kildee said that NAFTA had already cost his region of Flint, Michigan, too many jobs but urged Trump to consult closely with the House of Representatives.

“The President must work with Congress closely throughout this NAFTA renegotiation. Simply saying we are going to renegotiate NAFTA is not enough — details matter.” Kildee said.

The lone Republican in the mix, Rep. Dave Trott also bemoaned the loss of jobs in the areas he represents.

“For decades, Southeast Michigan manufacturers at every level of the supply chain have been decimated – put at a competitive disadvantage by countries that unfairly manipulate their currency,” Trott said. “I am greatly encouraged by the Administration’s interest in taking into account this important issue.”

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com.

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