Democrats slam Trump for USMCA signing snub

Congressional Democrats on Wednesday slammed President TrumpDonald John TrumpUS reimposes UN sanctions on Iran amid increasing tensions Jeff Flake: Republicans 'should hold the same position' on SCOTUS vacancy as 2016 Trump supporters chant 'Fill that seat' at North Carolina rally 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 NealRep. Cedric Richmond set to join House Ways and Means Committee Coons beats back progressive Senate primary challenger in Delaware Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief 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 PelosiSunday shows preview: Justice Ginsburg dies, sparking partisan battle over vacancy before election Trump is betting big on the suburbs, but his strategy is failing 'bigly' Trump orders flags at half-staff to honor 'trailblazer' Ginsburg 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 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, 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 DingellRaces heat up for House leadership posts Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell easily wins House primary Court orders release of Black Michigan teen who was jailed for missing schoolwork 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.