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House Democrats submit counteroffer on new NAFTA, advancing talks

House Democrats submit counteroffer on new NAFTA, advancing talks
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House Democrats submitted a counteroffer on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerWhiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 MORE, indicating progress on the stalled trade deal.

The White House has made the update to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) one of its central legislative priorities, but Democrats said they wanted improvements on issues pertaining to enforcement, labor, environment and pharmaceuticals.

Lighthizer has held regular meetings with House Democrats and submitted a revised version of the plan to them earlier in September. He met with Democrats again Friday morning.

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Earlier this week, he expressed optimism at the prospects of striking a deal.

"We expect to get there," he said.

"The Democrats have asked for specific and sensible things that they want assurances on. We should modify this legislation to accommodate their needs. This should be a bipartisan bill. It should be something where there are wins for the president and there are wins for the Speaker and for the Democrats," he added.

Lawmakers see the coming months as the last chance to push through a deal, worrying that 2020 presidential politics would make it impossible to pass after the new year.

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiGovernors take heat for violating their own coronavirus restrictions Spending deal clears obstacle in shutdown fight Ocasio-Cortez, Cruz trade jabs over COVID-19 relief: People 'going hungry as you tweet from' vacation MORE (D-Calif.) also mentioned progress on the agreement this week amid the political storm surrounding her support of an official impeachment inquiry into President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE.

"In case anyone is interested, we're moving ahead on USMCA," Pelosi said amid a slew of impeachment-related questions at her weekly press conference Thursday.

"We hope to be on a continued path to 'yes,' " she added.