March 21, 2018
While officials from the U.S., Canada and Mexico try to hammer out a new North American Free Trade Agreement, lobbyists in Washington are using the deal’s rewrite to advance a broad legislative agenda making it easier for U.S. companies to build factories, move cargo and export coal.
The strategy exploits the fast-track authority that allows presidents to negotiate big trade deals without having to worry about Congress tinkering around the edges. Under that authority, legislation to implement a trade deal can pass the House and Senate on a simple majority vote, without amendments or filibusters.
That means a NAFTA bill could lead to the enactment of what is essentially a big business wishlist of regulatory reforms and other policies too ambitious or politically sensitive to clear Congress in a piecemeal fashion.