President Donald Trump voiced optimism on passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA), and some now believe that it could happen ahead of Congress's Thanksgiving recess.
During a signing ceremony for the U.S.-Japan trade deal with many agricultural leaders on hand, Trump stated that the Administration reached a “tremendous agreement” with Mexico and Canada to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement with the new USMCA.
Regarding USMCA, Trump said “hopefully that’ll get done in the not-too-distant future.” He added, “Everybody wants it: Manufacturers want it, farmers want it, even unions want it. People want it.”
Vice President Mike Pence visited a Tyson plant in Tennessee on Monday, where he also touted the trade deal. Pence said under USMCA, Canada would increase access to imports of American chicken by 10,000 metric tons within the first six years and then increase it 1% for the next 10 years. In addition, it’ll allow the U.S. to export up to 1,000 mt of turkey products every year for 10 years -- and potentially a lot more than that.
“According to one estimate, poultry meat exports to Canada would increase by more than $180 million, or nearly 50%, within the six years after USMCA becomes law,” Pence said.
“We need Congress to approve the USMCA and approve it this year, because we want to keep the momentum in this economy,” Pence added.
Although the recent impeachment proceedings against President Trump initially were thought to impede the chances of passing USMCA this year, new statements from leaders provide hope of passage in the next few weeks.
“We are on a path to 'yes',” speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D., Cal.) told reporters last week regarding USMCA’s passage.
House Ways & Means Committee chairman Richard E. Neal (D., Mass.) plans to lead a delegation to Mexico for a meeting with President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Tuesday to gain final assurances regarding concerns over the deal’s implementation and enforcement.
The New York Times reported that Neal said recent talks between House members and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer have produced positive results. “It has been a patient give and go, and I think we have moved the ball toward the goal,” Neal said.
Democrats may also see action on the trade pact as a way to show voters that Washington, D.C., can function.
In an op-ed published in USA Today, Senate Finance Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and House Ways & Means Committee ranking member Kevin Brady (R., Texas) urged Congress not to let impeachment politics delay USMCA.
“We were heartened to hear speaker Pelosi and other leading House Democrats recently say that impeachment politics won’t get in the way of legislative action. We hope that’s true, but their actions will speak louder than words,” Grassley and Brady wrote.
“In fact, since President Trump’s inauguration, Democrats have seemed more determined to undermine him than help the American people. If Democrats fail to bring the trade deal up for a vote, that would say all anyone needs to know about their true motives," they added.
“The clock is ticking, and Americans are waiting for Congress to pass USMCA so they can reap the benefits of an agreement well negotiated by the President,” Grassley and Brady stated.