Congress eyes stopgap to avert shutdown, as health care bill gains steam

Apr 27, 2017 8

House lawmakers have filed a stopgap spending bill to avert a government shutdown this weekend, as lawmakers juggle talks on a longer-term budget deal and a potential revival of ObamaCare replacement legislation.

The short-term “continuing resolution” would fund the government through May 5, under current funding levels.

“I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon. It is time that this essential work is completed so that critical programs and activities – including national defense –are properly and adequately funded for the year,” House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., said in a statement, as he introduced the stopgap overnight ahead of a Friday-at-midnight deadline.

The White House and Congress continue to debate the particulars of a broader deal, with President Trump on Thursday taking to Twitter to air his concerns.

“The Democrats want to shut government if we don’t bail out Puerto Rico and give billions to their insurance companies for OCare failure. NO!” he tweeted.

The tweet was a reference to a Democratic push to help Puerto Rico fund its Medicaid program, and to keep funding payments under Obamacare that go to reimburse health insurers for reducing deductibles and co-payments for lower-income people.

The White House, though, earlier dropped a demand for money for Trump’s promised U.S.-Mexico border wall, helping clear the way for a broader deal.

At the same time, House Republicans had a breakthrough on health care legislation as a key group of conservatives, the House Freedom Caucus, announced it would support a revised version of the bill. Freedom Caucus opposition fueled the legislation’s collapse a month ago, a humiliating episode for Republicans that called into question their ability to govern given that they’ve been promising for seven years to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Yet whether the Freedom Caucus support would be enough remained uncertain, amid concerns from moderates and uncertainty over any bill’s prospects in the Senate.

The changes in the bill would let states escape requirements under Obama’s health care law that insurers charge healthy and seriously ill customers the same rates, and cover a list of specified services like maternity care. Conservatives embraced the revisions as a way to lower people’s health care expenses, but moderates saw them as diminishing coverage.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, of the Freedom Caucus, backed the proposal in an interview with Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”

“This bill doesn’t fully repeal ObamaCare and that’s a problem … but it at least gives the states that option to get that waiver,” he said, while vowing to continue to work for a full repeal.

With Trump’s 100-days marker hitting this Saturday, GOP lawmakers could try to move on the health care plan by the end of the week. But the timing is fluid, and it could slip.

Fox News’ Chad Pergram and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

House panel seeks charges for company in Clinton email case

Apr 27, 2017 9

A congressional committee on Thursday asked the Justice Department to consider criminally prosecuting a technology services company that was involved in maintaining a private email server for Hillary Clinton.

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee accused Colorado-based Platte River Networks and its chief executive, Treve Suazo, of withholding documents demanded under subpoena and obstructing the committee’s investigation “at every turn.”

The allegations were made in a referral to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that was obtained by The Associated Press. A lawyer for the company did not immediately comment.

A referral for prosecution from Congress has no practical impact on the Justice Department, which decides on its own whether evidence exists to investigate a matter or to pursue criminal charges.

The FBI last July closed its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server without recommending charges for the former secretary of state or anyone else. But since then, Republican-led congressional committees have made multiple referrals of their own to the Justice Department. One sought an investigation into whether Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, had lied to Congress. A second referral was about whether Clinton or others who worked with her played a role in the deletion of thousands of her emails.

Democrats have called those referrals politically motivated.

The new letter from the committee chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, holds the prospect of reviving the divisive, politically charged debate over the Clinton email investigations and shows the lingering anger from members of Congress about the outcomes of those investigations.

In the letter, Smith alleges that Suazo and his lawyer repeatedly turned aside demands for documents without making any “valid legal arguments.” Smith said that in September, when Platte River Networks responded to a subpoena from a month earlier, “the company categorically misinterpreted the language” of the subpoena and contended it had no relevant documents to provide.

Platte River Networks began managing the Clinton server in 2013. The company in 2015 provided the server to the FBI, which investigated the potential mishandling of classified information.

FBI files released last year show that Clinton aide Cheryl Mills had instructed a Platte River engineer in 2014 to delete all emails from the server that were older than 60 days old. But the engineer apparently forgot to delete the files and didn’t realize that until March 2015, weeks after the public revelation of Clinton’s use of a personal email server.

According to the FBI files, the engineer told agents that “he believed he had an `oh, (expletive)’ moment,” and deleted the archived emails sometime during the last week of March 2015. The FBI report said the engineer used a program BleachBit to delete the files in ways thought to make them unrecoverable.

FBI Director James Comey has said he had no basis to find that the deletions of Clinton’s emails were aimed at concealing evidence.

Trump eyes bid to split up 9th Circuit court amid sanctuary city, travel ban disputes

Apr 27, 2017 11

President Trump upped his battle with the federal appeals court potentially standing in the way of his agenda, saying Wednesday he “absolutely” has considered proposals to break up the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit.

Trump made the comments in an interview with The Washington Examiner. His complaints came on the heels of the appeals court earlier this year helping block his controversial “travel ban” and a federal District Court judge in northern California on Tuesday blocking his bid to cut off sanctuary city funding.

That judge, William Orrick, is not on the 9th Circuit bench, but the case could hit that court if appealed.

Trump accused his opponents of “judge shopping,” and told the Examiner they “immediately run to the 9th Circuit.”

And he gave a nod to congressional proposals to split up the appeals court into smaller parts.

“There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It’s outrageous,” Trump said.

Republicans have long complained that the 9th Circuit is not only liberal-leaning but far too big – covering a sprawling amount of territory.

GOP Sens. Jeff Flake and John McCain of Arizona introduced legislation earlier this year to carve six states out of the court circuit and create a brand new 12th Circuit.

If they succeed, only California, Oregon, Hawaii and two island districts would remain in the 9th.

Under Flake’s bill, the new circuit would cover Nevada, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Arizona and Alaska.

Congress created the court in 1891. At the time, the area was sparsely inhabited – only four percent of the U.S. population lived in the area compared to today’s 20 percent.

In 1998, Congress appointed a commission to reexamine the federal appeals courts’ structure. The commission ultimately recommended against splitting the 9th Circuit.

But carving up the large circuit isn’t out of the realm of possibility. In 1929, Congress split the 8th Circuit to accommodate a population boom and increased caseloads.

The Trump administration, meanwhile, is preparing to fight the latest sanctuary city ruling.

“The Department of Justice cannot accept such a result, and as the President has made clear, we will continue to litigate this case to vindicate the rule of law,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement, citing the need to deport criminal illegal immigrants. “This is the Trump era. Progress is being made daily, and it will continue. This will be the Administration that fully enforces our nation’s immigration laws.”

Orrick’s ruling to halt Trump’s order on sanctuary cities criticized the plan as too broad, saying it potentially threatens to cut off a wide range of federal grants to targeted cities. 

“And if there was doubt about the scope of the order, the president and attorney general have erased it with their public comments,” he wrote. 

Fox News’ Barnini Chakraborty contributed to this report.

Turkey's bombing of Yazidis wrecks group's only medical clinic

Apr 27, 2017 8

There is perhaps no group that has suffered more from the wrath of ISIS than Iraq’s Yazidi community.

In early August 2014 ISIS attacked their centuries-old homeland surrounding the city of Sinjar (Shingal). Thousands were slaughtered, thousands were captured and thousands had nowhere to go but to the top of Mount Sinjar where thousands died of starvation and dehydration. 

But in the early hours of Tuesday morning, many of those genocide survivors — living in squalid ripped tents with little aid, electricity or medical care — again fled for their lives, this time running down the mountain as Turkish warplanes struck in and around the mountain top for almost an hour. 

“The Yazidis of Mountain Shingal are terrified. They feel threatened and unsafe. They thought ISIS days were almost done and they can return to their villages and towns, but now they face a bigger problem,” Yakhi Hamza, country director of the 1st New Allied Expeditionary Force, a humanitarian nonprofit delivering medical help to the most vulnerable Yazidis, told Fox News after inspecting the damage. “Turkey is a more dangerous threat than ISIS and attacking Yazidis from above.”

Among the twice-displaced Yazidis now huddling in tents at the foot of the mountain are sex slave survivors and the elderly.

The strikes are reported to have killed at least 70 people in the Iraq/Syria border area, with one bomb hitting a Kurdish Peshmerga post on Mount Sinjar, killing at least five and critically wounding several more. A missile also struck a communications tower in the area, destroying a key lifeline to the outside world for the destitute and traumatized Yazidi community. 

Before these strikes, the mountain itself was a haunting place, littered with burned vehicles and strewn with belongings from the day of the ISIS rampage. The farming community left languishing there survived scorching summers and bitter snow-struck winters with next to no outside assistance. Their only medical facility near the mountain peak also became a casualty in this week’s Turkish assault.

“The strikes hit the only civilian clinic on the Mountain Shingal,” Hamza said. “The clinic was run by a volunteer, Dr. Khansa, who was selflessly serving displaced Yazidi community on the mountain from Day One.”

Before being bombed the clinic, previously visited by Fox News, was a makeshift room with six beds and a handful of medications run by a 36-year-old woman the locals lovingly call “Hero Doctor Khansa.” She is, in fact, not a doctor but a nurse from Rojava and a refugee herself — fleeing neighboring Syria after ISIS attacked in 2014. Nurse Khansa Ali told Fox News she simply started trying to help those in need by visiting other displacement tents until early 2015 when she was able to set up the small clinic.

“I stay here and I work 24 hours if I have to, whenever someone walks in,” Khansa told Fox News from the clinic late one night last November. “People have many problems, skin diseases, pregnancy complications. The hardest part to help is with the psychological illnesses. The children suffer the worst.”

Sheer luck kept Khansa alive. She awoke to loud noises and the sound of a hovering warplane. Quickly she awakened her patients. Together they ran out just in time to miss the Turkish bombs that leveled the clinic and claimed the lives of many of Khansa’s Peshmerga companions. As of Wednesday the stretch of road to the bombing location remained closed. 

Sinjar remains a contested area between Baghdad and the semi-autonomous Kurdish capital of Erbil. Iraq’s foreign ministry has condemned the Turkish attacks as a violation of Iraqi sovereignty, and major political parties in the Kurdistan Regional Government also condemned the fatal attacks.  

However, Turkish officials justified Tuesday’s attack as necessary for decimating “terror hubs” and stopping militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, also known as the PKK, from transporting terrorists and arms into Turkey to attack Turks. 

But the U.S. State Department has expressed “deep concern” over the strikes, with spokesperson Mark Toner implying that Turkey cannot pursue its grievances against the PKK at the expense of the fight against ISIS. The U.S.-led coalition is said to have received a one-hour warning prior to the attack. The Americans requested that Turkey not conduct the attack due to concerns over coordination. However, the NATO ally proceeded, targeting positions of the predominantly Kurdish People’s Protection Units, also known as YPG, as well as PKK positions around Mount Sinjar. 

The YPG is the primary ground force supported by the U.S. in the fight against ISIS in Syria. The YPG is closely affiliated with the PKK, which has for decades fought for Kurdish independence from Turkey. It is the PKK’s fight against Turkey that has caused the group to be designated a terrorist organization in the United States.

“Turkey is a more dangerous threat than ISIS [which is] attacking Yazidis from above.”

– Humanitarian worker

While it is hardly unusual for Turkish planes to bomb the mountainous region between Iraq and Turkey, some 70 miles from Sinjar and where the PKK is mostly situated, this week’s air assault into Iraq and Syria has been met with anger and suggests tensions within NATO are inflaming. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has vowed not to let Sinjar become a PKK base and cautioned that the strikes will continue.  

“Everyone is scared. But they knew straight away that this was Turkey. The threats had been coming,” one Yazidi from Sinjar, who requested he not be named, told Fox News. “If someone doesn’t do something, it will happen again. Yazidis don’t want this war.”

PKK groups remain scattered around Sinjar and its surrounding villages and are viewed by some Yazidis as crucial protectors after the Peshmerga and Iraqi Army withdrew from their positions on the morning ISIS marched in, a withdrawal that enabled the ISIS slaughter of Yazidis who did not escape in time. Since then many Yazidis have told Fox News that the PKK militia came to their defense — fighting back against ISIS and rescuing vulnerable women and children.

Meanwhile, a YPG solider on the Syrian Rojava side said the Turkish attack flattened their media center. The following day, evacuations of their area continued and many of their medical personnel treating the wounded were also in hiding. 

By week’s end YPG personnel were still counting their dead. 

Hollie McKay has been a FoxNews.com staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay

Insulting Ivanka: Why the media are turning on the First Daughter

Apr 27, 2017 19

Why is there suddenly so much media hostility toward Ivanka Trump?

Her visit to Germany has unleashed a wave of insults and snarkiness that seems wildly out of proportion to what actually happened on the trip.

The short answer, of course, is that she is a target of animosity that is really aimed at her father.

But it goes deeper than that. Some pundits seem to blame her for not transforming the president’s policies, despite the fact that he’s the one who got elected. Even more strangely, some blame her for not speaking out against her dad.

During the campaign, when I happened to chat with her a few times, Ivanka was getting pretty good press. And why not? She is a poised and accomplished entrepreneur who handles herself with grace.

I get that it’s strange for Ivanka Trump to be a top White House aide, and that some people can’t accept that. She originally just wanted to be an informal adviser. But with critics raising conflict questions about her business, Ivanka decided to relinquish that role and take an office in the White House, working with her husband, Jared Kushner, whose role in the administration keeps expanding. (Neither is drawing a salary.)

I understand that her detractors say Ivanka owes her business opportunities, and now her political opportunity, to her dad. Fine. The president knew he would face nepotism charges when he made the appointments. And she had to know she was putting herself in the line of fire when she took an official title.

But compare this to the situation faced by every first lady—and it’s an apt analogy because Ivanka’s high profile is partially due to Melania’s low-key role as she remains, for now, in New York.

Each first lady gets a government staff and an international platform, simply by virtue of the fact that her husband won high office. And every first lady is widely admired, although there has been criticism of some (especially Hillary Clinton, who later sought the top job) for wading too deeply into policy.

So is a first daughter really that different from a first lady?
When Ivanka, noting that the president has employed thousands of women, drew some boos on the Berlin stage with Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde, that opened the floodgates.

Asked by NBC’s Hallie Jackson how she feels about being called an “accomplice” to her father, Ivanka said she didn’t like the word. “I think one of the things I value about my father as first a businessman and now as a leader of the country, is that he creates ideas and he likes to hear from people with divergent viewpoints. And that’s not always true in politics.”

Still, we’re seeing headlines like this one in the liberal Huffington Post: “Trump’s White House Family Affair Looks A Lot Like The Most Corrupt Nations In The World.”

CNN commentator and former Ted Cruz aide Amanda Carpenter said that “when I see Ivanka taking on this role, I really see her becoming like Hillary Clinton in the worst ways. She’s sort of becoming increasingly unlikable. She’s trying to get these jobs she’s not qualified for based on family connections.”

MSNBC’s Chris Matthews compared the Trumps to “the Romanovs,” saying the president envisions a royal family and “it is un-American. It is untraditional. It’s somewhat weird.”

Matthews wrote a book about JFK, who of course named his brother attorney general. Times have changed, but it’s not like Ivanka is running a major department. When Joe Scarborough brought up Bobby Kennedy and Mika Brzezinski asked whether he was comparing RFK to Ivanka, he accused her of being “snotty” and taking a “cheap shot.”

The Guardian ran a snarky column saying that “Trump invoked her own impressive achievements as an example of her father’s commitment to equality. ..Trump is, indeed, a wonderful example of what women can achieve with just perseverance, tenacity and millions of inherited dollars.”

Some of this is so personal that it’s obviously not really about Ivanka.

She is clearly more moderate than her father and has been an advocate for women’s rights, family leave and child care. Yet her detractors had unrealistic expectations about her role and insist on holding her accountable for his past “Access Hollywood”-type comments about women.

Maybe a truly feminist approach would be to judge Ivanka Trump on what she actually does in the White House, not on their distaste for her dad.

Howard Kurtz is a Fox News analyst and the host of “MediaBuzz” (Sundays 11 a.m.). He is the author of five books and is based in Washington. Follow him at @HowardKurtz. Click here for more information on Howard Kurtz. 

Trump's tax-cut plan faces major challenges in Congress

Apr 27, 2017 20

President Trump called for deep reductions in business tax rates and major changes to the individual tax system in a bid to invigorate his agenda as he nears the 100-day mark.

With Wednesday’s proposals—which include a 15 percent tax rate for all businesses, lower individual rates, a bigger standard deduction to benefit middle-income households and the repeal of the estate and alternative minimum taxes—Trump hopes to speed up economic growth and make his mark as a historic tax cutter.

Still, the sweeping tax plan departed in important ways from congressional Republican proposals and alienated Democrats, giving the president a narrow path to victory through Congress.

“Clearly, we have a unique opportunity to do something major here,” said Gary Cohn, the director of Trump’s National Economic Council at the White House on Wednesday. “It’s our intention to create a huge tax cut, and equally as important, a huge simplification of the tax system in America.”

The new president appears determined to take a more proactive role in shaping the structure of the planned tax overhaul than he did to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act, which has struggled to get through the Republican-controlled House.

A week ago, with the 100-day mark looming and no legislative victories, Mr. Trump ordered advisers to have a tax plan ready soon. The result was an outline that is heavy on ambition, light on technical detail and likely to drive up budget deficits.

Click for more from WSJ.com

Obama spokesman defends reported $400,000 Wall Street-backed speech

Apr 27, 2017 21

A spokesman for Barack Obama spoke out Wednesday against critics who called out the former president for reportedly accepting a $400,000 speaking fee, backed by a Wall Street bank.

Eric Schultz, the spokesman, told Fortune that in 2008, then-candidate Obama pulled in more money than any candidate in history, and went on to “implement the toughest reforms on Wall Street since FDR.”

Fox Business reported that Obama has agreed to speak at a Wall Street conference run by Cantor Fitzgerald LP. The speaking fee will be $400,000, which is nearly twice as much as Hillary Clinton, his secretary of state, and the 2016 Democratic Party candidate, charged private businesses for such events.

Obama has agreed to speak at Cantor’s health care conference in September and will be the keynote luncheon speaker for one day during the event, people at the firm told Fox Business. These people say Obama has signed the contract, but the company, a mid-sized New York-based investment bank, is waiting to coordinate with the former president before making a formal announcement.

“Is there an irony here because he spoke incessantly about the income gap and is now earning from those same people he criticized? Yes it is,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic political consultant. “Should we expect it? Yes, we should because all former presidents do this. He went on the attack against Wall Street and now he’s being fed by those same people he called ‘fat cats’. It’s more hypocritical than ironic.”

Schultz went on to say that Obama will continue to give the occasional speech, but he will devote much of his time to writing his book and “focusing his post-presidency work on training and elevating a new generation of political leaders in America.”

Rep. Chaffetz to take leave of absence to recover from foot surgery

Apr 27, 2017 23

Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah says he needs immediate foot surgery and will be out of Washington for three to four weeks, missing a key vote on a spending bill to keep the government open.

Chaffetz, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, surprised the political world last week by announcing he will not seek re-election. He said in an Instagram post Wednesday he needs surgery to remove screws and pins from a foot he shattered 12 years ago. Chaffetz posted X-ray images showing the 14 screws and a metal plate in his foot. He said he injured his foot during a fall from a ladder at his home.

He said he was “sorry to miss the important work we are doing in Washington … but medical emergencies are never convenient.”

Chaffetz, 50, has not announced his future plans, although he says he’s considering private sector jobs. He is a possible candidate for Utah governor in 2020.

Trump agrees to renegotiate NAFTA with Canada, Mexico – for now

Apr 27, 2017 8

President Trump and the leaders of Mexico and Canada agreed Wednesday to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the White House said – though Trump warned Thursday he’d be willing to “terminate” the pact if they can’t strike a “fair deal.”  

“It is my privilege to bring NAFTA up to date through renegotiation,” Trump said in a statement late Wednesday. “It is an honor to deal with both [Mexican] President [Enrique] Peña Nieto and [Canadian] Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau, and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better.”

The White House added that Trump “agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time” and that all three leaders “”agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation” of the trade deal to “the benefit of all three countries.” 

But Trump tweeted early Thursday that his cooperation is contingent on a fair deal being reached. 

“I received calls from the President of Mexico and the Prime Minister of Canada asking to renegotiate NAFTA rather than terminate. I agreed,” he tweeted. “… subject to the fact that if we do not reach a fair deal for all, we will then terminate NAFTA. Relationships are good-deal very possible!”

The Mexican government confirmed the conversation in a statement issued late Wednesday.

“The leaders agreed on the convenience of maintaining the North American Free Trade Agreement and working together with Canada to carry out a successful renegotiation for the benefit of all three countries,” the statement read.

Trump repeatedly railed against the two-decade-old trade agreement on the campaign trail, describing it repeatedly as a “disaster.”

Earlier Wednesday, sources told Fox News that the White House had drafted a notification signaling the United States’ intention to withdraw from NAFTA. The document would have given the leaders of Canada and Mexico six months’ notice of the administration’s intention to exit from the agreement.

On Monday, the administration announced it would slap hefty tariffs on softwood lumber being imported from Canada. Trump has also been railing against changes in Canadian milk product pricing that he says are hurting the American dairy industry.

Trump told The Associated Press in an interview last week that he plans to either renegotiate or terminate NAFTA, which he and other critics blame for wiping out U.S. manufacturing jobs because it allowed companies to move factories to Mexico to take advantage of low-wage labor.

“I am very upset with NAFTA. I think NAFTA has been a catastrophic trade deal for the United States, trading agreement for the United States. It hurts us with Canada, and it hurts us with Mexico,” he said.

The Trump administration last month submitted a vague set of guidelines to Congress for renegotiating NAFTA, disappointing those who were expecting Trump to demand a major overhaul.

In an eight-page draft letter to Congress, acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn wrote that the administration intended to start talking with Mexico and Canada about making changes to the pact, which took effect in 1994.

The letter spelled out few details and stuck with broad principles. But it appeared to keep much of the existing agreement in place, including private tribunals that allow companies to challenge national laws on the grounds that they inhibit trade — a provision that critics say allows companies to get around environmental and labor laws.

Reports Wednesday of the possible move drew objections from some in Congress, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

“Withdrawing from #NAFTA would be a disaster for #Arizona jobs & economy,” he tweeted. “@POTUS shouldn’t abandon this vital trade agreement.”

Fox News’ John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trump agrees to renegotiate NAFTA with Canada, Mexico leaders

Apr 27, 2017 21

President Trump and the leaders of Mexico and Canada agreed Wednesday to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the White House said Wednesday night. 

“it is my privilege to bring NAFTA up to date through renegotiation,” Trump said in a statement. “It is an honor to deal with both [Mexican] President [Enrique] Peña Nieto and [Canadian] Prime Minister [Justin] Trudeau, and I believe that the end result will make all three countries stronger and better.”

The White House added that Trump “agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time” and that all three leaders “”agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation” of the trade deal to “the benefit of all three countries.”

Trump repeatedly railed against the two-decade-old trade agreement on the campaign trail, describing it repeatedly as a “disaster.”

Earlier Wednesday, sources told Fox News that the White House had drafted a notification signaling the United States’ intention to withdraw from NAFTA. The document would have given the leaders of Canada and Mexico six months’ notice of the administration’s decision to exit from the agreement.

On Monday, the administration announced it would slap hefty tariffs on softwood lumber being imported from Canada. Trump has also been railing against changes in Canadian milk product pricing that he says are hurting the American dairy industry.

Trump told The Associated Press in an interview last week that he plans to either renegotiate or terminate NAFTA, which he and other critics blame for wiping out U.S. manufacturing jobs because it allowed companies to move factories to Mexico to take advantage of low-wage labor.

“I am very upset with NAFTA. I think NAFTA has been a catastrophic trade deal for the United States, trading agreement for the United States. It hurts us with Canada, and it hurts us with Mexico,” he said.

The Trump administration last month submitted a vague set of guidelines to Congress for renegotiating NAFTA, disappointing those who were expecting Trump to demand a major overhaul.

In an eight-page draft letter to Congress, acting U.S. Trade Representative Stephen Vaughn wrote that the administration intended to start talking with Mexico and Canada about making changes to the pact, which took effect in 1994.

The letter spelled out few details and stuck with broad principles. But it appeared to keep much of the existing agreement in place, including private tribunals that allow companies to challenge national laws on the grounds that they inhibit trade — a provision that critics say allows companies to get around environmental and labor laws.

Reports Wednesday of the possible move drew objections from some in Congress, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

“Withdrawing from #NAFTA would be a disaster for #Arizona jobs & economy,” he tweeted. “@POTUS shouldn’t abandon this vital trade agreement.”

Fox News’ John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.