Schumer calls for improvements to new NAFTA deal

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats press Schumer on removing Confederate statues from Capitol Democrats' do-or-die moment Biden touts 'progress' during 'candid' meetings on .5T plan MORE (N.Y.) warned on Monday that the Trump administration is going to have to compromise on elements of a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico if it is to have any chance of being implemented by Congress. 

Schumer in a statement Friday said the labor and environmental provisions of the current deal are “too weak.”

“I am most interested in ensuring that any final agreement protects our dairy farmers and that there is real enforcement of new and tough labor provisions. The deal must also raise wages and should recognize that climate change is a grave threat to our countries’ economies and the health and safety of our citizens,” he said. 


President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the new deal Friday morning at the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. If approved by Congress, it would replace the 1994 North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Now it’s Congress’s job to pass implementing legislation, which only needs a simple majority in both chambers under the Trade Promotion Authority law. 

But under that law Congress must review and debate the legislation for a period of 30 days, which means the administration has to send the final document to Capitol Hill later Friday if it is to have any chance of receiving a vote before Democrats take control of the House in January. 

A group of Senate Republicans led by Sen. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyBlack women look to build upon gains in coming elections Watch live: GOP senators present new infrastructure proposal Sasse rebuked by Nebraska Republican Party over impeachment vote MORE (R-Pa.) have pushed the administration to send the accord to Congress in time for Republicans to implement it before House Democratic Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiOn The Money — House pushes toward infrastructure vote US mayors, Black leaders push for passage of bipartisan infrastructure bill Lawmakers say innovation, trade rules key to small business gains MORE (Calif.) or another Democrat becomes Speaker.

Democrats refused to ratify the Colombia and South Korea free trade agreements negotiated by President George W. Bush when they controlled the House in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Schumer signaled Friday morning that Democrats will push for tougher labor and environmental provisions. 

“Thankfully, the Congress has a role in crafting ‘implementing legislation’ to make sure the deal benefits and protects middle-class families and working people, and isn’t simply a rebranding of the same old policies that hurt our economy and workers for years,” he said. 

Republicans are also looking for changes to the deal, such as eliminating a 16-year sunset provision that they argue will contribute to uncertainty in the business community. They would also like to limit the president’s ability under the deal to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico for national security reasons, arguing they are close allies and don’t pose a security threat. 

If Congress fails to implement the new deal with Canada and Mexico, known as USMCA, NAFTA would remain in place although Trump could threaten to withdraw from it unilaterally.

Senate aides did not immediately respond to questions Friday morning about whether Congress has received the final accord. Lawmakers said they did not have it as of Thursday. 

Senate Republicans applauded the signing of the new deal as an important step to preserving relationships with the nation’s two biggest trading partners. 

“Now that the ink is dry, I look forward to reviewing the agreement to ensure it’s good for Texas and preserves the millions of jobs that already rely on NAFTA. I appreciate the hard work of the President in getting this done and I stand ready to work with the Administration and my colleagues on this important agreement,” Senate Republican Whip John CornynJohn CornynSenate panel advances antitrust bill that eyes Google, Facebook Democrats up ante in risky debt ceiling fight Senate parliamentarian nixes Democrats' immigration plan MORE (R-Texas) said in a statement. 

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (R-Utah) signaled Friday that the trade deal would likely wait until the new year. 

“In the coming months, Congress will have the opportunity to debate the details of USMCA and consider how it will impact workers and job creators in this country,” he said. “I encourage my colleagues to take the time to carefully review the agreement and engage in a meaningful dialogue with the administration as intended by Trade Promotion Authority.”

The Business Roundtable indicated in statement Friday that major U.S. companies are willing to work with Democrats over their labor and environmental concerns. 

“We look forward to addressing any issues and then working with the Administration – along with Democrats and Republicans in Congress – to move USMCA across the finish line,” the group said.