House Democrats on Tuesday announced an agreement with President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE on a historic deal revamping the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Canada and Mexico, setting up a full vote as early as next week.
“This is a day we’ve all been working to and working for on the path to yes,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDems look to keep tax on billionaires in spending bill Sunday shows - Democrats' spending plan in the spotlight Pelosi won't say if she'll run for reelection in 2022 MORE (D-Calif.) said at a news conference to tout the deal that was held just an hour after she appeared before the cameras to announce two articles of impeachment against Trump.
Pelosi said she hoped to pass the legislation before Christmas but would give time for Democrats to read and weigh in on the final negotiated deal, called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden says he's open to altering, eliminating filibuster to advance voting rights Pelosi says GOP senators 'voted to aid and abet' voter suppression for blocking revised elections bill Manchin insists he hasn't threatened to leave Democrats MORE (R-Ky.), who has pressed for Democrats in the House to take action, said his chamber will not take up the deal until after an impeachment trial.
“We will not be doing USMCA in the Senate. That will have to come up in all likelihood after a trial is finished in the Senate,” McConnell said.
Passage of the trade deal would provide a significant legislative win for Trump that might only be topped by his tax-cut bill, which was approved by a GOP-held House in 2017.
“It is long overdue for Congress to take up the USMCA, and we expect to push hard on passing the implementing bill before the end of the year,” White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamGrisham thinks Trump will run in 2024 and have no 'guardrails' Sunday shows preview: Senate votes to raise debt ceiling; Facebook whistleblower blasts company during testimony CNN's Brianna Keilar, Admiral Giroir spar over Trump administration's COVID-19 response MORE said in a statement released shortly after McConnell’s remarks.
Pelosi is also casting the trade pact as a political win that shows her caucus can legislate even as they move toward just the third impeachment of a U.S. president in history. Republicans have sought to make the case that Democrats are obsessed only with impeachment, and they have frequently brought up the trade deal in that context.
The Speaker also was careful to highlight changes to the originally negotiated text that helped win an endorsement from the AFL-CIO, and that underscored her argument that it was a win for progressives.
The deal includes stronger environmental and labor standards intended to help U.S. workers and will require Mexico to raise its minimum wage. It will allow Canadians to buy more U.S. goods online duty-free and will also install a new regime of rules relating to digital trade.
“Certainly, we would never have agreed to what the president proposed,” Pelosi said, referring to the deal initially negotiated by Trump and his team. She said the new framework would serve as a template for future trade deals.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka hailed the agreement.
“Working people are responsible for a deal that is a vast improvement over both the original NAFTA and the flawed proposal brought forward in 2017,” he said. “For the first time, there truly will be enforceable labor standards — including a process that allows for the inspections of factories and facilities that are not living up to their obligations.”
Lawmakers may be forced to stay in town past the scheduled session end date on Dec. 20 as they seek to pass the trade deal, approve articles of impeachment and pass spending legislation to avert a government shutdown.
House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerPelosi: Democrats within striking distance of deal Powerful Democrats push back on one-year extension of child tax credit The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Democrats optimistic after Biden meetings MORE (D-Md.) said Democrats want to hold votes on all three issues before the end of the month but that spending legislation will be the priority.
The road to Tuesday’s deal was long.
Trump signed his version of the deal just after Democrats won control of the House in last year's midterm elections, but before they came to power.
Negotiations between a group of House Democrats and U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerBob LighthizerBiden moves to undo Trump trade legacy with EU deal Whiskey, workers and friends caught in the trade dispute crossfire GOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' MORE, the White House’s top trade negotiator, began in earnest some six months ago.
“These were intense, argumentative, angry negotiations. I mean, this got hot on a number of occasions,” Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealPelosi: Democrats within striking distance of deal The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Democratic frustration with Sinema rises MORE (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Tuesday. He and Lighthizer, he joked, set a world record for hanging up on each other.
Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownWhen the Fed plays follow the leader, it steers us all toward inflation Which proposals will survive in the Democrats' spending plan? Senate Democrats call for diversity among new Federal Reserve Bank presidents MORE (D-Ohio) said that it took Democrats a year and a half to sell Trump on enhanced labor law enforcement checks essential to winning the party’s support.
“Trump was never for the strong labor enforcement rules and standards, so we had to pull him kicking and screaming,” said Brown, a fierce critic of the original NAFTA.
“I know we'll take credit for the whole thing, but the fact is with his leadership we were still losing jobs to Mexico.”
But the negotiators also felt that the deal would have to be tied up before the politics of the 2020 campaign got too heated. Several of the leading candidates in the Democratic presidential primary have laid out more rigid outlines for trade.
Brown said he discussed the deal with Trumka weekly for several months, adding that he likes what he’s seen so far of the new agreement.
Other progressives expressed skepticism that the bolstered labor provisions would be enough to win their support, even if they were good enough for the AFL-CIO.
“I'm a union guy, but [Trumka] doesn't speak for me on this issue,” said Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellProgressive poll finds support for solar energy tax credit legislation Democrats brace for toughest stretch yet with Biden agenda LIVE COVERAGE: Tax hikes take center stage in Ways and Means markup MORE (D-N.J.), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee. Other unions, he noted, such as the Machinists Union, still opposed the deal.
“We haven't seen the writing of how we're going to stop the hemorrhaging of jobs to Mexico,” Pascrell continued, adding that lawmakers have not seen a final draft of the proposed changes.
The deal also has critics on the right.
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.) ripped it, saying it was in many ways worse than NAFTA.
He cited the inclusion of a sunset clause, wage requirements that could increase consumer prices and the elimination of a dispute mechanism he said boosted foreign investment. Toomey said the pharmaceutical provisions Democrats boasted about including would disincentivize medical innovation.
McConnell also complained about the final deal. “From my perspective it’s not as good as I had hoped,” he said.
Still, the deal is expected to garner enough bipartisan support in both chambers to easily pass.
House Minority Whip Steve ScaliseStephen (Steve) Joseph ScaliseThe 9 Republicans who voted to hold Bannon in contempt of Congress Hillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — US cracks down on tools for foreign hacking House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure MORE (La.) pledged to “work tirelessly to whip votes to ensure strong GOP support” in a Tuesday phone call with Lighthizer, said a spokeswoman for the No. 2 House Republican.
Rep. Roger WilliamsJohn (Roger) Roger WilliamsThe CFPB's data overreach hurts the businesses it claims to help Early redistricting plans show GOP retrenching for long haul Photos of the Week: Congressional Baseball Game, ashen trees and a beach horse MORE (R-Texas), a staunch Trump ally, also warned fellow Republicans that “if we look for the perfect deal, it will mess things up.”
“We should have done this a long time ago,” Williams said.