November 07, 2018

Four Ways Foreign Policy Could Change, and One Way It Won’t

By Richard Fontaine

The blue wave that crested over the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday was just large enough to usher in a Democratic majority for the first time in eight years. Because the president retains extraordinary powers to manage international affairs, foreign policy and national security may seem like the least likely areas to look for change in the new era. But Democrats may well force a shift in Washington’s approach to the world.

First and most obvious, they could make their presence felt on trade. President Donald Trump will face an early test when he seeks passage next year of the United States–Mexico–Canada Trade Agreement, the successor to NAFTA. Democratic support for the pact (especially among members from farm states), particularly in light of Trump’s threat to withdraw from NAFTA, is probable but uncertain.

In trade talks with Japan, a Democratic House may induce the administration to seek higher labor and environmental standards to attract sufficient support, especially if Trump also hopes for subsequent deals with the European Union and the United Kingdom. And Representative Richard Neal, likely the incoming chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, has already signaled his opposition to any deal with the Philippines, given Manila’s human-rights record.

Second, the administration should expect more pressure to enforce Russia sanctions, and perhaps add more. Along the same lines, the House will take a closer look at past and present Russian meddling in U.S. elections. These investigations could be constructive, and closer House-Senate cooperation would go a long way toward presenting a united political front in the face of Moscow’s continuing efforts to undermine American democracy.

Read the full article in The Atlantic.

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