‘I’d like to have it done as soon as it’s ready…’
(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) House Speaker Nancy Pelosi admitted that the new trade agreement between the U.S., Canada,and Mexico is the “easiest” the U.S. has negotiated, leading Republicans to question why Congress has yet to approve the package.
We’re on a path to yes, and I think every day brings us closer to agreement,” Pelosi told Bloomberg News on Friday.
“I’d like to have it done as soon as it’s ready. I wouldn’t rule it out next year. Hopefully we can do it sooner, but I said: when it’s ready we’ll do it.”
Democrats had previously insisted that the bill be revised to contain more ‘inclusive’ language about transgender workplace rights, but that and other stalling tactics have widely been dismissed as political games.
Much of the attention of Democratic leadership is presently focused on the ongoing impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump. Although pressed to present a timeline, Pelosi and others have frequently hedged on how long they intend to drag out the investigation into a partisan operative’s complaint that Trump sought an inappropriate deal with Ukraine.
As with the impeachment proceedings, some Republicans have accused Pelosi of delaying the USMCA trade deal in an attempt to put pressure on the Trump administration as the 2020 election approaches.
But Pelosi could also be trying to cozy up to labor unions, which have been critical of the deal.
“It would probably be doubtful that we will be able to get there if we don’t come to an agreement with the workers of America who feel that they’ve been badly hurt by NAFTA,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the Wall Street Journal in September.
USMCA raises labor standards in Mexico but doesn’t provide enough enforcement to prevent U.S. companies from moving across the border to save money, labor unions have argued.
“It’s like trying to sell a car without an engine or wheels,” Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, the largest labor organization in the U.S., said.
Pelosi said that prioritizing labor values is important to the House if it’s to move ahead with the trade deal.
“Every time I speak to Richard Trumka, he sings the praises of how we have kept our values, our priorities intact as we go forward,” she said.
Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley blasted the Democrats’ “stalling tactics” and urged the House to hold a vote on the trade deal, arguing that delaying any longer could jeopardize the entire agreement.
“The Democratically-controlled House of Representatives looks increasingly less likely to act this year on USMCA. That threatens passage of the trilateral trade deal this Congress, as next year is a presidential election year,” he said.