May 21, 2019 8:20 pm

Trump urges lawmakers to pass new NAFTA before infrastructure bill

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn as he leaves the White House in Washington, Monday, May 20, 2019, to attend a campaign rally in Montoursville, Pa.

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

U.S. President Donald Trump wrote in a letter to Democratic congressional leaders that lawmakers should pass the United States-Mexico-Canada trade pact before taking up any infrastructure bill.

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“Before we get to infrastructure, it is my strong view that Congress should first pass the important and popular USMCA trade deal. … Once Congress has passed USMCA, we should turn our attention to a bipartisan infrastructure package,” Trump wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer.

READ MORE: Canada will move quickly to ratify new NAFTA: Freeland

Trump said the highway trust fund should be reauthorized and asked congressional Democrats to come to a meeting at the White House on Wednesday with a list of their infrastructure priorities and desired funding.

Trump met with Democratic lawmakers in April, where the group agreed to spend $2 trillion to repair and build the United States’ aging roads, bridges, power grids, water and broadband infrastructure, but did not develop a plan on how to pay for such a package.

WATCH: Trudeau government gets win with removal of steel and aluminum tariffs

Trump’s administration has concluded negotiations with Ottawa and Mexico City on a trade pact to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, but is still locked in talks with congressional Democrats over the deal’s approval.

READ MORE: Here’s what you need to know about CUSMA and digital trade

Last week, his administration announced it would remove U.S. tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum, a major hurdle to the passage of the agreement, but a number of Democrats have expressed concerns about other parts of the deal.

© 2019 Reuters

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