House Democrats Plan USMCA Vote as Pelosi Lauds Revised Deal

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Donald Trump ( MGN )

(Bloomberg) -- House Democrats plan a vote next week on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free-trade agreement, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told her members, saying the deal was changed to meet her demands.  

“This is the day we have been waiting for,” Pelosi told reporters. “It is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration.” 

Finalizing the deal, which has been languishing for more than a year, will be a political victory for President Donald Trump and could resolve some of the uncertainty weighing on the economy as he heads into his re-election campaign. But it is also a win for House Democrats who are eager to prove that they can do more than investigate and impeach Trump.

Representatives from Canada, Mexico and the Trump administration will meet in Mexico City later Tuesday to sign the amendments to the trade agreement. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the new version will be ratified by the legislatures of all three countries. 

The changes that Democrats demanded on provisions regarding the environment, pharmaceuticals, labor and overall enforcement were the subject of intense negotiations between U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and House Democrats led by Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal. 

Pelosi told her Democratic members earlier Tuesday that there is a final deal and she expects a vote next week, according to Representative Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Texas. 

“We are ready to rock and roll,” Cuellar said after a closed-door meeting of Democratic representatives in Washington. “We’re very confident. We have the numbers” to pass the deal.  

Republicans in the U.S. Congress have been relentlessly pressuring Democrats to put the deal, known as the USMCA, up for a vote. Some Republicans on Monday said they were concerned that the changes to the trade agreement, negotiated in close consultation with labor unions, would stray too far from the original deal.

Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley, the Republican who will shepherd the deal through the GOP-led Senate, said Tuesday expects “good news” from House Democrats about the deal and isn’t worried that the changes would slow its passage.

”I don’t think it’s going to be big enough to stop us from getting it passed,” Grassley said.

One of the most important endorsements for the deal came from the AFL-CIO, the largest labor federation in the U.S. Richard Trumka, the group’s president worked closely with Democrats on the negotiations.

“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,” Trumka said in a statement. “Trade rules in America will now be fairer because of our hard work and perseverance. Working people have created a new standard for future trade negotiations.”

 

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