July 15, 2019

Congress Will Not Vote On USCMA Before Six-Week Summer Recess

Trump administration officials reportedly have decided to give U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi additional time to organize Democrats in support of the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) before formally sending the trade pact to Congress for ratification.

As this report from CNBC indicates, that means a vote on the USMCA most likely will not happen until after the August congressional recess, at the earliest. (As Connecting the Dots has reported previously, several Democrats have argued the labor and environmental provisions in the pact are not strong enough and say they will vote against the USMCA unless they are changed.)

According to Bloomberg Government (subscription required), the Trump administration’s decision comes with the caveat that “Democrats have to show enough progress on negotiated changes in the next month so trade officials can convince [President] Trump there’s a path to a vote in the near future.”

Marc Short, who serves as Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, said in an interview on Fox Business that he thinks “the reality is” that a vote on the USMCA is “more likely to happen this fall,” and that House Speaker Pelosi holds the “keys” to getting a vote.

The decision to wait means that politics could eventually delay a congressional vote on the pact even further. Bloomberg Government noted, “A delay deep into the fall also may risk making the trade deal a campaign issue among the Democratic presidential contenders. If some were to come out against it, Pelosi could decide to shelve it.”

Indeed, as Politico noted last week, presidential contender Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) already has expressed her opposition to the USMCA as it currently is written. Last week, Sen. Harris said, “I can tell you that in a Harris administration … there would be no trade deal that would be signed unless it protected American workers and it protected our environment.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who oversees development of trade policy for the Democrats in the Senate, also opposes the deal in its current form. He has said, “It’s clear Trump doesn’t want to fix this in a way that works for U.S. workers. He wants to fix it politically for himself. And he wants a win and he wants to say it’s a great victory.”

While the White House and congressional Democrats continue to try to negotiate changes, as Politico also reported, a group of House Democrats will travel to Mexico this week “to look at labor standards there as they keep pressing for USMCA changes.”

As a reminder, the Metals Service Center Institute has joined the USMCA Coalition, a group of trade associations and businesses that are working to encourage lawmakers to vote for the trade pact.

Visit the coalition’s website here to learn more about how the USMCA will affect the U.S. economy.

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