President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were grilled Tuesday by members of Congress over whether they were willing to take a tougher line with China over its trade practices.
The trade deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has long been a focus of the White House and congressional Democrats.
Trump has said he wants to protect American jobs, and his administration has pushed back against criticism that it would hurt American manufacturing.
Trump’s White House spokesman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said in a statement that the president is “looking forward to the full and open debate” of the trade deal.
Trump also signed a revised version of his executive order on Tuesday that temporarily banned citizens of six countries from entering the U.S. and blocked people from Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Sudan from entering for 90 days.
It is expected to take effect Thursday.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said he and his fellow Democrats are eager to get a better look at the deal and whether Trump is trying to appease China, which has a $400 billion trade deficit with the U, and not merely appease China.
“This is a very serious issue,” Thune said of China.
“China is not going to give up their trade advantage with the United States to get away with this.
It’s a trade issue that has to be debated.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called the administration’s trade rhetoric “a textbook example of hypocrisy.”
He said Democrats are concerned the president could be sending a signal to China that the U’s trade policies are more than just a show.
“I think he is sending a message that he does not believe we can have trade with China,” Murphy said.
Trump on Monday told the Financial Times that he would like to renegotiate the trade agreement with China, but he wants more details on the pact’s impact on U.K. and other countries.
Trump is expected on Tuesday to announce a deal with European Union member states on how to negotiate a new deal that would include an agreement to open up China’s market.
Trump told reporters he would also negotiate a deal to ease tariffs on imports from China and other nations.
“The American people are tired of China, and they are tired,” Trump said.
“We’re going to be able to do it better.”