USMCA May Be Heading To A House Vote
While progress on a “phase one agreement” between the U.S. and China remains forthcoming, there have been developments on another trade front. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that a deal on the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) is in range, as she is waiting on the U.S. Trade Representative to draw up a copy of a modified, compromise agreement for her to review. House Democrats have been holding out for stronger enforcement mechanisms in the agreement before a vote in the House of Representatives is held, and they and the White House appear to be closing in on a deal.
Speaker Pelosi, House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met last week to discuss the final points of contention in the USMCA, which is intended to update the North American Free Trade Agreement that the U.S., Mexico and Canada entered into in the 1990s.
“The original draft of the new NAFTA agreement, while promising in some regard, still left American workers exposed to losing their jobs to Mexico, included unacceptable provisions to lock in high prescription drug prices and fell short of key environmental standards,” Pelosi said in a statement. “Above all, the NAFTA 2.0 draft lacked the concrete, effective enforcement mechanisms needed to ensure that the agreement became more than a list of promises on paper…We are within range of a substantially improved agreement for America’s workers. Now, we need to see our progress in writing from the Trade Representative for final review.”
Talks are under way this week to wrap up negotiations, but while House Democrats and the Trump Administration may overcome their disagreements before the end of the month, it’s uncertain if there’s time remaining to pass the legislation before the end of 2019.