Democrats slam Trump for USMCA signing snub

Congressional Democrats on Wednesday slammed President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes MORE for excluding them from a signing ceremony for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), an agreement for which they achieved significant changes and won union support.

"Perhaps we were not invited to today’s event on the South Lawn because our presence would be a prominent reminder of our critical leadership in achieving this deal," said Rep. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealWyden, Mnuchin clash over Trump tax returns, Hunter Biden probe Overnight Health Care: House panel advances legislation on surprise medical bills | Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Trump abortion coverage rule | CDC identifies 13th US patient with coronavirus White House warns of raising health costs in debate over surprise medical bills MORE (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee.

Democrats delivered strong bipartisan support for the deal in Congress after negotiating significant changes on labor enforcement, environmental provisions and pharmaceuticals with the White House.

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“Because of the work of the House Democrats, under the leadership of Richie Neal with his task force, they made tremendous differences in what was proposed originally and what the president will be signing today,” Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Stone judge under pressure over calls for new trial MORE (D-Calif.) said at a morning news conference.

Pelosi spokesman Henry Connelly took it a step further.

"The White House hasn't invited House Democrats to their USMCA signing ceremony. But we'll be well represented in the huge changes to the original USMCA draft that Democrats wrested out of the administration on labor, prescription drugs, environment and enforcement mechanisms,” he said.

Trump closed the original deal, updating the North American Free Trade Agreement in 2018, but Democrats insisted on changes. Over the course of 2019, they engaged in painstaking negotiations with U.S. Trade Representative Robert LighthizerRobert (Bob) Emmet LighthizerGOP senator warns quick vote on new NAFTA would be 'huge mistake' Pelosi casts doubt on USMCA deal in 2019 Pelosi sounds hopeful on new NAFTA deal despite tensions with White House MORE, eventually settling on an updated deal that won the backing of prominent unions such as the AFL-CIO.

Lighthizer, who won praise from Democrats for his seriousness in the negotiations, acknowledged "Republicans and Democrats" who “made this a bipartisan success,” but didn’t mention any Democrats by name. 

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Lighthizer made light of the situation, a nod to the tense partisan divisions in Washington and the ongoing impeachment trial of Trump.

“I’ve been in town long enough to know that listing members at a time like this makes more enemies than friends,” he said.

Democrats sought credit for their role in the deal.

“The first draft that we saw didn’t take care of many of the problems we were worried about,” said Rep. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Democrats call on Pompeo to restore funding to Gaza Democratic congresswomen wear white to Trump's address in honor of suffrage movement MORE (D-Mich.).

“We fought hard to improve the original deal because what the Trump administration originally proposed wasn’t sufficient,” she added.

Some pointed to Trump’s decision to leave them out of the ceremony as an unnecessary partisan slight.

“Not that I'm dying to visit the White House these days, but I think it's pretty petty to exclude the House Dems who were instrumental in improving and passing,” Rep. Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) tweeted.