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Donald Trump may find scrapping NAFTA harder than he thinks: Congressman

Click to play video: 'Abandoning NAFTA could mean economic chaos for North America: Neal' Abandoning NAFTA could mean economic chaos for North America: Neal
WATCH ABOVE: Congressman Patrick Neal, a democrat representing Massachusetts, tells Vassy Kapelos Prime Minister Trudeau helped to assuage concerns on a re-negotiated NAFTA deal but there is still much work to be done on the automotive sector – Oct 15, 2017

A high-ranking Democrat on one of the most powerful committees within the American government says Donald Trump will likely run into trouble in Congress if he follows through on repeated threats to pull out of NAFTA.

Richard Neal, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Ways and Means, told The West Block‘s Vassy Kapelos that scrapping NAFTA would likely prompt “economic chaos” across the hemisphere.

“In the end, Congress, and the Ways and Means committee, they’re going to have considerable sway over this issue,” Neal noted. If and when Trump turns to Congress to formally undo the relationship, he added, “that would be a much more difficult task for him.”

WATCH: Trudeau praises ‘good faith’ meeting with Trump on NAFTA talks

Click to play video: 'Trudeau praises ‘good faith’ meeting with Trump on NAFTA talks' Trudeau praises ‘good faith’ meeting with Trump on NAFTA talks
Trudeau praises ‘good faith’ meeting with Trump on NAFTA talks – Oct 11, 2017

All revenue issues within the U.S. government have to originate in the House of Representatives, Neal explained, and that means they must be heard and passed through his 40-member committee, which has broad responsibility for trade, tariffs and tax.

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The group of lawmakers could conceivably help determine the outcome of NAFTA renewal. In the meantime, however, the president continues to sow uncertainty about the future of the trade deal.

“I think much of his rhetoric is charged on a day-to-day basis, and frequently he reverses the rhetoric that he’s already offered, so I think that we’re going to have to take the longer view here,” Neal said of Trump’s tirades.

READ MORE: Trump hints at bilateral trade with Canada as Trudeau visits White House

Neal voted against the original NAFTA pact, which came into force in the early 1990s, and says he still believes that the agreement should be updated and adjusted to better serve some Americans — especially those working in manufacturing.

But pulling out entirely is not the solution, Neal told Kapelos.

“I think a better distribution of the benefits is what we should be focused on.”

That stance was bolstered earlier this week by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he said, who appeared before the committee to make the case for preserving the trilateral agreement.

“He tried to assuage, I think, some of the concerns that we might have,” Neal said.

“I must say that Prime Minister Trudeau offered great optimism from a Canadian perspective.”

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— Watch the full interview with Congressman Richard Neal above.

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