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July 22, 2019

U.S. Lawmakers Do Not Expect Vote On USMCA Ratification Until The Fall

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other Trump administration officials continue to meet with members of the working group established last month by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to address Democrats’ concerns about the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), and signaled optimism that discussions are moving in the right direction. Earlier this week,

White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said he believes “we have a very good chance of getting [USMCA] through,” citing the “cooperation and accommodation” of Speaker Pelosi. U.S. House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who is overseeing negotiations for House Democrats, said, “I think all the parties would, at least, agree that the dialogue is sound in that the conversation is moving along.”

According to Politico, both the White House and congressional Democrats expect discussions to continue through August and that there will not be a vote on USMCA ratification until the fall.

What happens if these negotiations fall through and Congress does not take that vote?

If Congress does not act, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said last week that the United States should remain in the North American Free Trade Agreement. In an interview with Fox Business Network, Sen. McConnell said, “I don’t think we ought to walk away from NAFTA if we can’t get this done.”

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, said last Monday that he has “a better plan” if the U.S. Congress does not ratify the USMCA. The president did not give details about that plan, however.

Individuals Democrats continue to offer ways to address their concerns about the deal. According to Politico, last week Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) introduced legislation that would set up the independent body authorized to monitor and enforce labor-related trade concerns. The panel would be able to initiate disputes and to impose sanctions on workplaces, employers and signatory countries to ensure labor standards were being fully implemented.

As Connecting the Dots has reported previously, the Metals Service Center Institute has joined the USMCA Coalition, which is working to illustrate the urgent need for action to move the agreement through Congress before electoral politics further complicate the outlook.

On July 17, the coalition joined with the National Association of Manufacturers for a major industry fly-in on July 17 in which more than 130 industry representatives participated in meetings with lawmakers in the U.S. House and Senate.