USMCA deals reached, House vote likely next week
Deals on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade have been reached among the three governments and between President Donald Trump and House Democrats, and the House is likely to vote on USMCA before Congress goes home for the holidays.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, White House adviser Jared Kushner and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland all traveled to Mexico City Tuesday to sign the agreement with Mexican officials.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., announced at a Capitol Hill press conference a deal has been reached that they can support.
“This is a day we’ve all been working to and working for on the path to yes,” Pelosi said. “It’s a victory for America’s workers. It’s one we take great pride in advancing.”
Pelosi’s statements were backed up by an endorsement from the AFL-CIO, which has been considered crucial in convincing a large number of House Democrats to support the deal.
“Make no mistake, we demanded a trade deal that benefits workers and fought every single day to negotiate that deal; and now we have secured an agreement that working people can proudly support,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a statement.
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., said Tuesday, “I predict an overwhelming vote for this agreement, and my USMCA whip team is engaged and ready to push this important trade agreement over the finish line as soon as it is scheduled for the House floor.”
“Republican support for President Trump’s hard-negotiated trade deal will be strong. Every day we delay this vote only costs us more jobs, better ability to sell American products into neighboring countries, and a stronger economy,” Scalise said.
The White House has not yet sent the agreement to Congress for consideration, and an exact voting schedule has not been released.
Politico said Tuesday senior House Democrats speculated the House could vote on USMCA on Thursday, Dec. 19, the day after the House is expected to vote on impeaching Trump.
But the vote in the Senate appears likely to wait until 2020. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Tuesday he wants to follow regular order and hold a mock mark up of the bill at which members could propose amendments. The administration is unlikely to adopt those amendments, however.
The Republican-leaning American Farm Bureau Federation and many other farm groups announced their support of the measure. Farm Bureau released a list of USMCA’s accomplishments for agriculture.
“We urge members of Congress to swiftly approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said.
“Agriculture is at a critical crossroads with the downturn in commodity prices, losses from natural disasters and the trade war. This is an opportunity for Congress not only to help U.S. farmers and ranchers turn the corner on trade, but also show that Washington can still get things done on a bipartisan basis.
“Ratification of the USMCA would build on the momentum of the U.S.-Japan agreement, which gave a major boost to American agricultural products in our fourth-largest market, and send a signal that the U.S. is back in business in the international marketplace.”
The Democratic-leaning National Farmers Union will not take a position on the agreement until its board has an opportunity to review the agreement, a spokeswoman said. ❖