House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters the USMCA surpasses the 25-year-old NAFTA pact, which has been regularly criticized by President Donald Trump.
“There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA, but in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration,” she said.
The USMCA had been bottled up in the House for months while Democrats called for stronger environmental and labor protections. Though it’s unclear what changes have been made to the administration’s initial draft, the accord has won support from the largest U.S. labor union, the AFL-CIO.
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“America’s great USMCA trade bill is looking good,” Trump said before Pelosi’s announcement. “It will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody — farmers, manufacturers, energy, unions — tremendous support. Importantly, we will finally end our country’s worst trade deal, NAFTA.”
Vice President Mike Pence said Democrats “acquiesced” after he and Trump stumped nationwide for its passage.
“From day one, President Trump promised to fight for trade deals that put American jobs and American workers first and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement does just that,” Pence said in a statement.
“The USMCA will create even more jobs for the hardworking families who are the backbone of our economy — the farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and small business owners.”
Trump met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Monday night to discuss the agreement.
“The two leaders reaffirmed their strong support for the trade agreement, which will create jobs and economic growth in the United States, Canada, and Mexico,” a White House spokesman said.
Lawmakers could vote on the proposal sometime next week. They leave Capitol Hill for the holiday recess on Dec. 20.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will not vote on the deal before the chamber departs and will likely not take up the deal until after an expected impeachment trial fro Trump.
“We will not be doing USMCA in the Senate,” said McConnell. “They will have to come up in all likelihood after a trial is finished in the Senate.”
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