Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Friday that the Trump administration doesn't want to "unnecessarily irritate" Congress on the path to a tax overhaul bill.
On Friday, CNBC reported that the White House is softening its stance on trade — including on steel and NAFTA — as it seeks to preserve Republican votes on tax reform.
When asked whether President Donald Trump is willing to take a softer stance in order to win some bipartisan support on tax reform, Ross told CNBC, "Well what we don't want to do is things that will unnecessarily irritate the Senate."
"We need the votes there and as proven with health care, it is a very fragile margin," Ross added in an interview on "Squawk Box." "So, it's a question of timing more than it is direction."
"The president is not going to be suddenly happy with trade deficits. He's not going to be happy with exporting jobs. But the real priority is going to be getting the tax bill through," Ross said, adding the president has not forgotten his "campaign promises.
Tax reform will be the "biggest incremental factor" in getting the U.S. growth rate over 3 percent, Ross said Friday.
"That extra percentage point of growth is huge," he said. "It's $10 trillion over 10 years. It's $3 trillion of more federal revenue. So, it's a linchpin."
Ross said lowering the corporate tax rate will be of huge importance and then "a little bit of redistribution, so the people in the lower brackets get the real benefit."
In the interview, Ross also spoke on NAFTA and said that autos and auto parts are a key area in overhauling trade agreement.
Watch: Wilbur Ross: Autos and auto parts make up more than 100% of trade deficit