Senate confirms Trump's pick for United States trade representative

Kristopher Drake
May 13, 2017

Although Lighthizer was confirmed in a landslide, notable Senators, such as John McCain, voted against him, citing fears that Lighthizer's renegotiation of NAFTA will hurt states like Arizona which depend on free trade. Those Democrats were joined by 45 Republicans who voted for Robert E. Lighthizer, a rare bipartisan moment coming a day after Democrats demanded an independent criminal investigation of Trump's 2016 campaign after he fired James B. Comey as FBI director.

He also offered a rebuke to China on its trade policy. They said the United States deserves a trade representative "who will renegotiate NAFTA in order to build on its successes, not as a pretext for unraveling it". Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who spent the previous eight years in Congress fighting a Democratic White House on trade.

The trade issue has been turned on its head, to a position where there is now a bipartisan majority in Congress opposing the global economic strategy that has driven US trade policy for the past 35 years.

Drawing from experience in trade law and his work in the Reagan administration in countering Japanese imports, Lighthizer will likely try to force China and other competitors to end what the Trump team sees as unfair trade.

The Senate on Thursday confirmed Robert Lighthizer to serve as the next USA trade representative, making him the final Cabinet-level nominee set to join the Trump administration.


Trucks wait in the queue for border customs control to cross into the U.S.at the World Trade Bridge in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico on November 2, 2016. In 2008, he wrote a column in The New York Times criticizing McCain, then the Republican presidential candidate, for his unstinting support of free trade.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association applauded the U.S. Senate's confirmation of Robert Lighthizer to be the U.S. Trade Representative. "We will continue to urge USTR to focus on protecting Mexico, our No. 1 market, insist that Canada revoke its detrimental new milk pricing policy, and pursue additional export opportunities around the world".

Only three Republicans voted against Lighthizer, and Sen. "During his confirmation process, Ambassador Lighthizer highlighted the importance of worldwide trade in our industry and made note that US farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses would be taken into greater account during the renegotiation of NAFTA".

Thursday's confirmation came after a months-long process that began on January 3, when Trump announced his intent to nominate Lighthizer.

Under Lighthizer, Wolff says, "trade policy is going to get a lot more muscular".

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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