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Government Texans wary over Trump and NAFTA

Texans wary over Trump and NAFTA

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April 26, 2017

WASHINGTON — Texans in Congress reacted with concern on Wednesday after reports surfaced that President Donald Trump is considering taking the first steps of possibly unwinding the North American Free Trade Agreement.  

Trump administration officials are considering issuing an executive agreement to signal the United States’ intent to withdraw from the trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, according to several news organizations.  

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, represents a district that shares the border with Mexico and was the most overtly unhappy member of the Texas delegation.  

“He can do the same thing with his NAFTA order that he can do with his wall,” Vela said, alluding to a previous missive to Trump encouraging the future president to “take your border wall and shove it up your ass.”  

“Killing NAFTA is going to kill the Texas economy,” he added. “It would be devastating.” 

The highest-ranking Texas Republican in Congress, U.S. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, was far more mitigated but encouraged caution.  

“I think we’d better be careful about unintended consequences,” said Cornyn, according to Politico.  

Interviews with Capitol Hill staffers Wednesday afternoon showed Democrats are increasingly frustrated with how issues like NAFTA spring forward from the administration, even as Congress is attempting to address how to fund the government, resurrect a health care overhaul and rewrite the tax code.  

Texas Republicans, who tend to support free trade, were similarly uncomfortable, but it it could prove unlikely that the rank-and-file House member who believes in free trade is going to be out front in opposing one of Trump’s signature campaign policies. Back in August, a number of Texas GOP members defended the trade agreement in statements to the Texas Tribune. 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2017/04/26/texans-wary-over-trump-and-nafta/.

The Texas Tribune is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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