House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, holds its weekly press conference at the Capitol on Thursday, July 11, 2019.
Bill Clark | CQ-Roll Call Group | Getty Images
House Democrats will control the fate of one of President Donald Trump's top priorities as they return to Washington this week.
The president urged swift approval of his replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, a top economic and political priority before the 2020 elections. Democrats have shown little urgency in moving to ratify the new US-Mexico-Canada agreement signed by the three countries last year.
The White House has argued that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could put the vote to a vote at any time, and it would pass the Democrat-held House. But the speaker and leading Democratic negotiators still have concerns about whether this will be enough to protect American workers and the environment. They also worry that part of the agreement may raise drug prices for US consumers.
Democrats expect the pace of their talks with the US Attorney's Office to increase after they return to Washington. Some members ̵
"The essence will determine the timing," said Pelosi spokesman Henry Connelly, asked if a vote could be taken in 2019.
The next few months could prove to be key to Trump's trade agenda, one of the plans, who helped move him to the White House. It has taken on more heat as its trade war with China, the world's second-largest economy, escalates and fears a slowdown in global growth. Farmers and other businesses affected by the commercial conflict are seeking approval from the USMCA to eliminate uncertainty about their access to key Canadian and Mexican markets.
Much depends on US trade relations with its neighbors, which expanded after NAFTA came into force in 1994. The U.S. shipped about $ 300 billion worth of goods to Canada last year, more than any other country. It has exported about $ 265 billion worth of products to Mexico, its second largest market.
Democrats and Republican Trump also complain that NAFTA is helping to cut U.S. jobs in favor of cheaper Mexican labor. During a speech demanding the passage of the USMCA last month, the president called NAFTA "one of the worst trade deals in the world so far" and "a disaster for the country."
The US, Canada and Mexico made several key changes to NAFTA last year, the USMCA sets stricter country of origin rules for auto parts and requires nearly half of these products to be made by workers earning $ 16 an hour or more . It also expands America's access to the Canadian dairy market and aims to modernize copyright and digital marketing rules.
Of the three countries, only the Legislature of Mexico has ratified the deal.
Significant Implementation Points
America's southern neighbor passed a labor reform bill in April in part to allay Camaro's Democrats' concerns about the USMCA. But Pelosi still has concerns about implementing rules that give workers better bargaining rights and aim to deter US companies from relocating to jobs in Mexico.
During a conference call with Parliament's House of Commons last week, Pelosi emphasized that the party's duration worries about labor rules, drug spending and environmental protection, according to an invitation aide. She also detailed a phone call with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, during which she said Democrats were particularly worried about implementing the agreement and labor standards in Mexico.
Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means Richard Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat who heads the group working on the deal, also outlined the House's latest interactions with the USTR. He said the task force had sent specific proposals to the USTR.
Neal also told his Democratic colleagues that the ball was already in USTR's court, the associate said. The congressman said he expects the pace of the negotiations to pick up this month after Congress returns.
The Trump administration seems poised to push even harder in the coming months. As lawmakers return to Washington, the USMCA is top of our agenda, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business Network on Monday.
"Ambassador Lighthazer works closely with the Chamber," he said. "I have spoken to the speaker several times and we look forward to working with her this month, I hope we get to the point where they are comfortable bringing him to the floor. Because I think if they do, he will do it he has the votes to go through. "
The USTR did not immediately comment on what the Trump administration thinks is a realistic timetable for approval by the USMCA. Democrats currently have 235-197 edges in the House.
The USMCA and the 2020 elections.
Pelosi also had to deal with some agitations as part of his own debate. In July, 14 House Democrats wrote a letter to the speaker urging her to vote for the USMCA by the end of the year.
A dozen of those MPs just took office in January. Most of them won the GOP seats on the battlefield in January and could return to competitive elections this year.
After Congress returns, some of these lawmakers continue to push for party leaders to advance the USMCA. Pop Colin Allred, who turned a Texas neighborhood in the suburbs of Dallas last year, said "trade with Mexico and Canada is critical to supporting businesses for both big and small success."
"I believe that Congressional leadership must move forward in a productive way to deal with any unresolved issues, and I remain optimistic that an agreement that is beneficial to North Texas and our three states can be made forwards. "he said in a statement to CNBC.
Rep. Sherris Davids, who won the 2018 Northeast Kansas election, said "the multilateral agreement is crucial" because her area relies on trade with Mexico and Canada. In a statement to CNBC, she said she would "push for stronger protection of the environment and labor" and for a two-vote by the end of this year so that we can support our commercial and agricultural communities, as well as our workers and the environment environment "
Many organized working groups – part of a key constituency for Democrats – have not warmed to the USMCA. Organizations such as the AFL-CIO have called for changes before Congress ratifies the deal to better protect American workers.
In a letter sent Monday to the 14 MPs who pressed Pelosi for a vote, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers President Robert Martinez Jr. said the deal was not going far enough to stop outsourcing to Mexico. The head of an estimated 600,000 union workers wrote that the USMCA "is not approaching reflecting the much-needed changes we have made to the USTR."
"Until the changes are fixed in the new agreement, NAFTA 2.0 should not be sent out to the vote," he wrote. "We strongly oppose your request for a vote this year, and we urge you to review our requests for NAFTA, which may be acceptable to us and all the working families you represent."
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