White House, Democrats close to USMCA trade deal: report

The White House and House Democrats are on the verge of a new North American trade deal in what would give President Trump a signature legislative victory.
The Washington Post reported Monday that AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said the two sides had come to a deal and that the labor union was reviewing it.
The White House and AFL-CIO did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
But a senior Democratic aide pushed back on the report, saying that nothing had yet been finalized.
“We’re still studying the proposal,” the aide said.
Trump announced the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) more than a year ago. Negotiations with House Democrats have been ongoing ever since, with Democratic leaders pushing for stronger labor and environmental regulations.
A deal on the USMCA would come at a time when House Democrats are moving to impeach Trump and would also benefit Democrats by helping the party argue it is legislating even as impeachment moves forward.

The legislation is a divisive point among some Democrats, however. Sharp critics of the president have been reluctant to vote on the USMCA and give Trump a legislative victory, while some more moderate lawmakers have been wary of returning to their districts with impeachment dominating the conversation.

But Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has been adamant that the caucus can keep impeachment separate from legislation, and she has met in recent weeks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other administration officials.

Trump has repeatedly hammered Pelosi for her decision not to bring the USMCA up for a vote to date, accusing her of delaying it to shepherd votes on impeachment.

“I’ll see if I can be switched from ‘no’ to ‘yes,'” Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.), a member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade and close union ally, said late last week when asked about the USMCA.

One of the major questions hanging over the talks in recent weeks was whether Mexico would agree to invasive oversight and enforcement of the deal.

“We don’t have very much confidence in that the government of Mexico can fulfill what we’re going to be putting in these trade bill,” Pascrell said.

“If they can’t get [El] Chapo’s son from killing people and his cohorts, how are they going to follow through and administer the legislation we’re talking about?” he added, referring to the drug cartel leader.

But even without union support, Pascrell said some members of Democratic leadership would be eager to push ahead.

Niv Elis contributed to this report, which was updated at 10:45 a.m.

Tags Bill Pascrell Canada Donald Trump Mexico Nafta Nancy Pelosi Robert Lighthizer Trade USMCA
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