Cruz, Roberts agree on NAFTA, not on Democrats
Cruz: Northey hold will continue
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said he won’t allow a vote on President Donald Trump’s nomination of Bill Northey to be agriculture undersecretary for farm production and conservation until he gets a meeting with the administration about the Renewable Fuel Standard, Politico reported.
Corn belt senators have succeeded in convincing Trump to maintain the support for the RFS and its volumetric requirements for renewable fuels that he promised during the campaign. Cruz and other oil state senators have been upset by the Trump administration’s refusal to make changes. Last week, Cruz put a hold on Northey’s nomination, and a group of senators demanded a White House meeting.
After a Chamber of Commerce event on the North American Free Trade Agreement, Cruz told Politico, “We are working to sit down with the administration and discuss a solution to the RFS that addresses the concerns of the agriculture community, but also avoids devastating job losses among refiners.”
— The Hagstrom Report
Sens. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, agreed on the importance of the North American Free Trade Agreement but not on whether Democratic senators can help on trade.
At a U.S Chamber of Commerce event on Oct. 31, Cruz said he believes NAFTA renegotiations could “be a good thing or a bad thing,” depending on whether the Trump administration’s objective is to increase international trade with Mexico and Canada or to erect barriers to the U.S. market, which, he said, “would do profound damage.”
“Which direction will the administration go? I will tell you candidly: I don’t know,” Cruz said. “It depends on which voices will be listened to.”
Cruz said his biggest issue in NAFTA is energy development in Mexico. Cruz compared the situation of energy development in the United States and Mexico with the economic differences between North and South Korea.
A satellite map of South Korea shows lots of lights while a map of North Korea shows “it is shrouded in darkness” because there is so little development, Cruz said.
The difference is “almost like the finger of God” showing the difference between a market economy and communism, he said.
A similar satellite photo of the Eagle Ford shale formation in South Texas and Mexico shows that the area north of the Rio Grande “is brightly lit up,” while the area in Mexico is “far, far darker” — though not as dark as North Korea.
The Trump administration, he said, should use the NAFTA negotiation to open up the energy market in Mexico because Mexico would turn to the United States and Texas for the expertise to develop those energy resources.
A withdrawal, he said, “would impose massive economic costs on Texas and the United States. My hope is we don’t go down that path.”
Cruz also said he believes the action on trade will be within the Trump administration because Republicans in the Senate are “virtually united” in favor of trade, but Democrats would filibuster any bill.
Cruz noted President Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, but Hillary Clinton “got pilloried by the left” because her husband signed it.
“I can’t think of a single Democratic senator who is a strong defender of free trade,” Cruz said.
But when Roberts took the podium, he said he disagreed with Cruz about the Democrats.
Roberts said he could think of Democratic senators who support trade, especially those on the agriculture committee.
Roberts stressed “times are tough in farm country” and farmers and ranchers need “certainty” and “reliable markets” for their products.
Roberts said he knows Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and believes Lighthizer knows the value of agriculture because he worked for former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan. Yet, Roberts said, “the path” Lighthizer and Trump may take “is fraught with a lot of dangers.”
Roberts said he has told Trump trade is “like humpty dumpty — you can’t put it back together.”
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