NAFTA Deadline: Why May 17?

Congress gave the president authority to renegotiate the deal and they will have to approve it. ( REUTERS/Edgard Garrido )

House Speaker Paul Ryan has set a May 17 drop dead date for completing a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Why that Thursday? Simply put, Congress gave the president authority to renegotiate the deal and they will have to approve it.

House Ag Committee Chairman Mike Conaway (R-TX) explained on Tuesday’s AgriTalk Radio Show that this Congress will need to vote to ratify a new deal with our neighbors.

“[The deadline] has to do with the interplay of the trade promotion authority the President has and allowing this 115 Congress to be able to vote on that NAFTA deal under that trade promotion policy,” he said. “That [authority] gives the president great latitude, but it also puts the bill back in the House and the Senate for up or down vote at some point time.”

According to Conaway, the mechanics of getting that bill on the floor for a vote given the number of legislative days between now and the end of the 115 Congress are why Speaker Ryan has set this week’s deadline.

“Paul wants to trigger a vote of whatever it is with NAFTA within that timeframe and I think that's what he's done with his with his deal for this week,” Conaway told AgriTalk host Chip Flory.

Despite the looming deadline, hot button issues for agriculture including dairy access to Canada have not been resolved.

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