Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), along with Ted Cruz (R-TX) and some others have come up with a plan which might be worth a look. With President Trump in the process of renegotiating NAFTA, it’s being suggested that a change to the structure of the arrangement might allow Congress a say in knocking back any onerously expensive regulations which creep into the system. They put the plan forward in a letter submitted to the President this month. (Denver Post)
U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado is pressing President Donald Trump to use NAFTA negotiations to transform federal rule-making in a way that could thwart future environmental protections and other proposed regulations.
The initiative, outlined in a letter Gardner and two fellow Senate Republicans sent Trump in mid-March, would use a retooled North American Free Trade Agreement to give Congress power it otherwise lacks: the ability to swat away any new federal regulation with an annual economic impact of at least $100 million.
At the same time, their plan — billed as a way keep the U.S. economically competitive — could help advance a port project in Oregon that would make it easier for Colorado energy producers to sell natural gas to overseas markets.
“It’s time to try a new and more innovative approach,” Gardner and fellow GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Steve Daines of Montana wrote in their letter to Trump.
If implemented, this plan would add a “competitiveness chapter” to NAFTA. This would be accomplished in part by adding in the REINS Act. Under that law, Congress could evaluate any future trade deals and applicable regulations coming from the executive branch to see if the regulations would bring about significant economic harm. If so, the regulation could be torpedoed by Congress rather than waiting for a new president to come along and see it repealed or scaled back.
The REINS Act has been stalled in the process for some time because the Democrats hate it (obviously). But if it’s worked in as part of the larger trade deal with Mexico and Canada it could probably sail through more easily. This would give the United States a lot more flexibility in protecting our own interests while providing an additional layer of checks and balances on the White House.
You can read the full details at the Denver Post article linked above, but this sounds like a promising bit of outside-the-box thinking. And given the current level of discord between the White House and congressional Republicans over NAFTA, anything that brings them closer to an agreement could be the sort of sweetener that Trump loves when trying to close a deal.