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robert lighthizer

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, left, and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, speak to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

With Congress back in session, Republicans say they are ready to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Last week U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer launched what Politico called a charm offensive on Capitol Hill amid high-profile trade deals being sought with China, and Canada and Mexico, among others. Some Democrats in the House majority have voiced concerns over the deal to replace NAFTA, especially over labor and environmental regulations.  

When U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was growing up in Ashtabula, Ohio, in the 1950s, it was a thriving factory town with a busy port where freighters brought iron ore to be used in the steel mills of Pennsylvania.

Today, many of the biggest factories have long since left the region for low-wage places — taking a lot of jobs with them — and the port ships a fraction of the freight it once did.