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Trump Changes Gear on Infrastructure, Demanding Trading Come First



WASHINGTON – President Trump effectively exploded negotiations with democratic leaders on a plan to rebuild the country's highways, airports and other infrastructure on Tuesday night and insist that they set aside the idea until Congress approves a new trade pact with Mexico and Canada.

The surprise issue came on the eve of a white meeting scheduled for Wednesday, when Mr Trump hosted speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the democratic leader to discuss a building package he has targeted to as high as $ 2 trillion.

"Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong opinion that Congress must first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal," wrote Mr. Trump in a letter to Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer, using the initials of the agreement between the United States and Mexico and Canada. "When Congress has passed the USMCA," he added, "we should draw attention to a two-tier infrastructure package."

The President's sudden shift came only three weeks after he agreed with Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schumer to pursue an ambitious reconstruction plan that, if approved, would be his Vice-President's most significant two-sided achievement. Republicans and Democrats have for many years agreed that the country's bridges, railways, broadband and other structures are failing and in need of repair and improvement.

But the atmosphere, which is already poisonous with partial conflict, has become even more acidic in recent days as the White House and Congress are escalating their struggle over testimonies and documents demanded by House Democrats as part of various investigations by the President and his fellow human beings.

Ms. Pelosi was scheduled to meet with her democratic caucus at. 9 on Wednesday to discuss increasing demands among her members to pursue infringement against Mr. Trump. It did not go unnoticed in the West Wing that she would come from the meeting to the White House at the meeting at noon. 15.00 with the president.

Mr. Trump has for several months said that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to do business with Democrats on important legislation if they continued in their strategy to investigate him on several fronts. Although he did not mention the complaint in the letter sent Tuesday night, it could be interpreted as a warning shot that substantial agreements, even in areas of common interest, could be destroyed by continued conflict over summonses and tax statements.

Democrats who have said they could work with Mr. Trump about the law, even during the investigation of him, was flabbergasted by the letter, but Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer later issued a statement that did not mention his trading needs and instead seemed to suggest that the president might be delayed because he could not make a political charitable plan.

"We look forward to hearing the President's plan on how to pay for this package," they said in the statement.

Herr. Trump, in the letter, does not rule out working on infrastructure and said he was still hoping to discuss the issue with Mrs Pelosi and Mr Schumer on Wednesday and urged them to bring specific priorities to the meeting. And he chided them to cancel a meeting with their helpers to discuss the matter. "Nevertheless, I remain committed to transferring an infrastructure bill," he wrote.

But by prioritizing the trade agreement, he essentially put infrastructure on the back burner because there is no momentum to pass the deal with Mexico and Canada at the moment. Mr. Trump signed the deal with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts in November, yet six months later there has been no single vote on it on Capitol Hill.

"This groundbreaking deal has already been agreed to the governments of Canada and Mexico, will increase employment growth and create millions of highly-paid jobs," he wrote. "It will benefit farmers, manufacturing workers, trade unions and businesses throughout our great nation."

The agreement updates the North American Free Trade Agreement, which was first mediated in the 1990s, but long relieved by Mr Trump as a bad deal for the United States. The president faces a challenge to convince skeptics in Congress both to the right and to the left that his version represents another improvement.

Some pro-trade legislators complain that the revised agreement sets too many limits for the free movement of goods and services across borders, while trade skeptics argue that it does not do enough to secure US jobs, promote higher wages and protect the environment.


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