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Pelosi: Deal on new NAFTA 'imminent'

Pelosi: Deal on new NAFTA 'imminent'
© Greg Nash

House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden attends first church service as president in DC, stops at local bagel shop More hands needed on the nuclear football Sunday shows preview: All eyes on Biden administration to tackle coronavirus MORE (D-Calif.) on Thursday said that a deal to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was “imminent.”

“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,” she said at her weekly press conference.

House Democrats have been involved in intense negotiations with the Trump administration over provisions of the new trade deal, called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

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Democrats have sought stronger enforcement provisions, particularly in regard to labor, environmental and pharmaceutical issues.

Pelosi met Thursday afternoon with the top Democrats negotiating the deal, and is scheduled to speak with U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerBob 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 later.

Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealJudge says Treasury must give Trump 72 hours before releasing tax info to Democrats Trump's lawyers seek clarity about how tax-return case will proceed following Biden inauguration IRS says start of tax filing season delayed until Feb. 12 MORE (D-Mass.), the head of the Ways and Means Committee that oversees trade, said he did not expect an announcement Thursday, but indicated that talks were nearing completion.

“There’s still a few issues that we’re trying to zero in on,” he said, adding that the support of the AFL-CIO and other labor groups would be necessary to clinch the deal.

That support, he said, was in reach.

A deal, which Neal said he hoped would pass before New Year's, would be a key victory for President TrumpDonald TrumpMore than two-thirds of Americans approve of Biden's coronavirus response: poll Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor Mexico's president tests positive for COVID-19 MORE, who made replacing NAFTA a central part of his 2016 campaign. It would also be a victory for Democrats, who could claim a new model of labor-friendly trade deals.

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Pelosi said she would like to see the deal pass by year's end.

"I'd like to see us get it done this year. That would be my goal," she said.

The deal would come as the House is expected to wrap up an impeachment inquiry into Trump and potentially vote on articles of impeachment. Passage could offer Democrats a rebuttal against Republicans, who have accused them of prioritizing impeachment above legislation.