As the clock winds down in Congress, House action on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has many hurdles left, according to speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Cal.).
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met with Pelosi and House Ways & Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D., Mass.) on Thursday and said they continued to make progress but still were narrowing differences. Talks between Lighthizer and House Democrats have gone on for months, and enforceability remains a sticking point.
Earlier in the day, before the meeting, Pelosi said during her weekly press conference she is “eager to get this done” regard to bringing USMCA up for a vote, but she also recognized that a lot of writing and conversations with Canada and Mexico are needed on the basis of what might be in a final agreement “in terms of a change in the actual treaty and in the actual agreement.”
Pelosi noted, “It will take time to write and then to bring to the floor” any final deal reached between the Administration and House Democrats.
She reiterated that legislating “takes time,” and in most cases, needs a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report of costs and impacts as well as committees with jurisdiction to sign off so a bill can go to the floor confidently.
“I’m not even sure, if we came to an agreement today, that it would be enough time to finish, but it just depends on how much agreement we come to,” Pelosi said ahead of the meeting, which brought no final deal.
“I don’t want us to miss an opportunity to have a bill that I think could be a template for the future, because globalization is a reality. It is not going away. It is a fact,” Pelosi said.
Farmers for Free Trade co-executive director Brian Kuehl released a statement Thursday afternoon saying while it's encouraging that both sides narrowed differences Thursday, "it's time to get a deal."
Kuehl added, "Farmers are watching USMCA closely and are increasingly frustrated by delays and false hope. While Congress and the Administration say they’re on the five-yard line, Americans that depend on trade with Canada and Mexico just see a delay of game. We encourage the White House and Congress to roll up their sleeves and redouble their efforts to get a deal. For farmers, time is not on our side."
Pelosi stated that she voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement based on sidebars and letters that were never honored. She said after “all these good intentions, let’s honor our workers by putting them in the bill so that they have the effect of law.”
President Donald Trump and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka took to Twitter on Friday following Trump’s criticism on a "Fox & Friends" interview Friday morning that Pelosi won’t bring up the USMCA vote this year. Trump stated, “She won’t do USMCA, and everybody in the country wants it: the farmers, the manufacturers. But Richard Trumka plays her like a fiddle, and my prediction: She won’t even do it.”
Trumka responded via Twitter.