It’s Time for Virginia Republicans to Choose
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) office issued a press release Wednesday touting the good news about a Canadian company, Cascades, investing $275 million to set up a “lightweight recycled containerboard operation in the former Bear Island Paper Mill in Hanover County.” The company promises it will create 140 jobs.
Setting aside the reams of Virginia taxpayer money the company will receive — including “a $1.95 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Hanover County with the project” and a slew of potential tax exemptions and state subsides — the announcement comes when the Trump administration is engaged in a trade war with Canada, which just happens to be Virginia’s largest export market.
One might think Virginia’s congressional delegation would be in the president’s face over this. With nearly $3 billion in exports and thousands of jobs at stake, it would make perfect sense for a bipartisan group to at least write a letter to the president urging him to reconsider his actions, or at least make a legislative effort to curb the president’s trade authority.
Some are. Sen. Mark Warner (D) and Sen. Tim Kaine (D) sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in April about the White House’s strong-arm tactics over the North American Free Trade Agreement and how blowing up that agreement would damage Virginia’s economy.
In June, Warner introduced legislation that would “require the White House to seek Congressional approval before issuing tariffs designated in the interest of national security.”
There was even a glint of bipartisanship, when eight members of the state’s congressional delegation signed a letter to the International Trade Commission opposing tariffs on Canadian newsprint.
Good. But more needs to be done, and the president has already shown how to proceed.
The Post’s Erica Werner and Sean Sullivan reported the backlash from Republicans and the president’s political base may have forced him to back away from a potentially destructive trade war with the European Union.