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BCA Supports Modernizing NAFTA but Cautions to Avoid Harming It

The Business Council of Alabama and more than 300 local and state chambers of commerce this week signed a U.S. Chamber of Commerce letter to President Trump and Congress urging them not to harm the North American Free Trade Agreement if it’s renegotiated.

“Business leaders across the country know first-hand that trade with Canada and Mexico has created American jobs, boosted economic growth, and strengthened local economies, but we know we can do even more to seize the benefits of trade with our North American neighbors,” the letter states.

President Trump on Wednesday met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and commented about NAFTA. “In terms of the fairness of NAFTA, I said we’ll renegotiate,” Trump said.

Business leaders are concerned the President may use the negotiations as a pretext to pull the United States out of the 1994 trade deal, the Council of State Chambers said.

NAFTA has tremendous benefit to American workers, farmers, ranchers, and companies of all sizes, the U.S. Chamber said. Trade with Canada and Mexico supports 14 million American jobs and accounts for more than $1.2 trillion traded annually between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. NAFTA also has been especially beneficial for America’s farmers and ranchers, the Chamber said.

Agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico grew from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38 billion in 2016. In addition, Canada and Mexico are the top two markets in the world for U.S.-made manufactured goods, with purchases of nearly half a trillion dollars last year.


PRESIDENT TRUMP SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDER ON THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at taking action on ObamaCare on his own after Congress failed to repeal the law.

Trump said Thursday the order is “starting that process” to repeal ObamaCare. It will be the “first steps to providing millions of Americans with ObamaCare relief,” Trump said. President Trump signed an executive order Thursday intended to chip away at Obamacare after Congress failed to repeal the law as Republicans now in the majority for seven years said they wanted to do.

“It will be great, great health care for many, many people,” President Trump said Tuesday prior to his executive order that expands access to “association health plans” and allows Americans to choose certain plans at lower prices.

The order is President Trump’s biggest step to lessen ACA regulations from the Obama administration.

Already opponents are predicting lawsuits over instructions to three cabinet departments to rewrite federal rules for association health plans – a type of insurance in which small businesses of a similar type band together through an association to negotiate health benefits, the Washington Post reported.

The order expands the availability of short-term insurance policies from the current three months to nearly a year. The limited-benefit policies were meant as a bridge for people between jobs or young adults no longer eligible for their parents’ health plans.

Briefing reporters on Thursday morning, Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, made clear that the president’s order is merely the “beginning” of actions the administration intends to take unilaterally to help “Obamacare’s victims,” the Post said.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Ryan Threatens to Keep Members in for Christmas to Finish Tax Overhaul
Roll Call McPherson 10/12 “Nothing seems to push lawmakers to get their jobs done and pass legislation more than the threat of having to be in Washington over the holidays. Knowing this, House Speaker Paul D. Ryan made it clear Thursday that Congress staying in session over Christmas is an option if they have not advanced a tax overhaul bill by then.

“However, that won’t be necessary if all goes according to plan. The goal is for the Senate to pass a budget resolution next week and go to conference with the House to quickly resolve the differences between their budgets. Once both chambers have adopted a reconciled budget with common reconciliation instructions for the tax overhaul, the House Ways and Means Committee will release the tax legislation and go to markup.

“The House will then take up the measure on the floor with the goal of getting it passed and over to the Senate in November, Ryan said. If the House does get a bill to the Senate in November, the timing would then be out of Ryan’s control until the other side acts. But the Christmas threat is not an empty one as the two chambers are expected to pass different bills and a conference committee will likely be needed to close the gaps.”

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Dana Beyerle
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