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Lawmakers have signed off on US President Donald Trump’s pick for US trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, as the administration gears up for the promised renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The US Senate on Thursday voted 82-14 in favour of the nominee, who will play a critical role in formulating US trade policy and delivering on Mr Trump’s “America First” trade agenda.
Mr Lighthizer is known as a ferocious political operator and negotiator, having served as a close aide to former senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole in the late 1970s and early 1980s before joining the Reagan administration as deputy US trade representative. He was most recently a partner at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom.
The confirmation comes despite opposition from two senators from Mr Trump’s own Republican party, John McCain of Arizona and Ben Sasse from Nebraska, who said in a letter on Wednesday that Mr Lighthizer’s previous testimony did not reassure them that he understood the positive benefits conferred on their states by the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta, which has been sharply criticised by Mr Trump.