A Previous version of this story misstated the date of President Trump’s State of the Union speech.
President Donald Trump told the nation Tuesday night his trade policies are helping restore American auto and other manufacturing projects and asked Congress to give him more unilateral authority to impose trade remedies on other nations.
In his State of the Union speech, Trump said the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement rectifies a”historic blunder” that resulted in the migration of good-paying jobs to Mexico and encouraged lawmakers to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada replacement.
The USMCA will”supply for American employees like they have not had delivered to for quite a while,” Trump said from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. “I expect you can pass USMCA into law, so we can bring back our manufacturing jobs in even larger numbers, enlarge American agriculture, protect intellectual property and make sure that more cars are proudly stamped with our four amazing phrases,’Made in the United States.'”
Support for USMCA is lukewarm thus much and experts are divided about whether Congress will eventually approve it.
“Wages for autoworkers have had a 25 percent pay cut in recent decades. This must change,” UAW President Gary Jones said in a statement after the speech. “Let us restore the American employee as a priority at the laws, trade arrangements and the underlying values we all cherish. Our challenge is to restore the American Dream. Because American employees have spent in America and they look to Washington to put money into U.S.!”
Tariffs about $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, and on imported steel and aluminum, are hurting some American businesses, but Trump reported the duties have brought China to the negotiating table, where the U.S. is insisting on an end to unfair trade practices and more balanced transaction to protect U.S. workers.
Trump encouraged Congress to pass the Reciprocal Trade Act, introduced by Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., which might give the president broad new power to raise tariffs to coincide with the degree of high tariffs on U.S. products in other countries.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has already dismissed the notion, which is expected to gain little support. Grassley and other Republicans support legislation introduced that would rein in Trump’s power to impose tariffs for national security reasons, as he did with steel and is threatening to do with light vehicles.