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Why Trump Still Can’t Get USMCA Through Congress (Foreign Policy)

October 23, 2019

From the article:

With the impeachment inquiry gaining momentum seemingly every day, U.S. President Donald Trump is desperate for some sort of victory. That’s why the administration has stepped up pressure on the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives to pass the revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which the United States, Mexico, and Canada negotiated last year. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly said she’s hoping to pass the agreement—but only after core, long-standing Democratic concerns are addressed. With just a few weeks left in this year’s congressional calendar, prospects for passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) seem to be dimming by the day...

From the beginning, Trump’s trade team, led by Robert Lighthizer, has been meeting with Congress to assuage lawmakers’ concerns and try to make just enough tweaks to ensure passage of the agreement; Lighthizer met again Wednesday with key Democrats. The problem is that many of the Democratic concerns, which are shared by environmentalists and labor groups, seem hard to address without going back and making changes to the USMCA text, which neither Mexico nor Canada wants. (Passage in Canada’s new parliament is all but a “foregone conclusion” but only after the U.S. Congress moves on the agreement.)

'I don’t know how you fix the pharmaceutical issue or digital or the question of enforcement without reopening the text,' said Kimberly Ann Elliott, a trade expert at the Center for Global Development. 'My impression is that Pelosi does want to do it—but I don’t have a strong sense of how Lighthizer can square the circle on the things the Democrats want to see.'

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