House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) said during a press conference Thursday that the Trump administration’s renegotiated USMCA trade deal with Mexico and Canada will pass the House imminently.
“I do believe that if we can get this to the place it needs to be, which is imminent, that this can be a template for future trade agreements. A good template,” Pelosi remarked, saying the key issue for Democrats is “enforcement,” a premier issue for labor unions.
“I’d like to see us get it done this year,” she said. “I mean, that would be my goal.”
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) accused Democrats for “heel-dragging” on USMCA in favor of impeachment.
“Tomorrow, I’m going to be paying attention to what we’re doing in the Senate,” McConnell said Tuesday. “House Democrats have enough time to continue their three-year-old obsession with impeaching the president, but they cannot find the time to pass a landmark trade deal that would create 176,000 new American jobs.”
Last year, Trump signed the USMCA at the G-20, saying “it’s great for all of our countries.”
The USMCA overhauls the former North American Free Trade Agreement, and is designed to raise wages and improve working conditions for both Mexican and American auto workers by tightening regulations. But labor unions remain skeptical of weak enforcement provisions, which could allow U.S. companies to cut costs by moving operations across the border where it will be easier to skirt the new regulations.
News of the imminent deal comes after months of negotiation between House Democrats and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. “We want to iron out two or three bottom-line issues and present them to the USTR and then proceed from there,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D., Mass.), who has been leading the negotiations for the Democrats, told reporters.