The Hill | 14 November 2019
USMCA deal close, but not ’imminent,’ Democrats say
By Niv Elis and Juliegrace Brufke
Democrats say a deal to update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is close, but not “imminent,” as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier Thursday.
“I wouldn’t say imminent but getting closer,” said Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.).
“I can tell you, I am amongst a lot of Democrats who want to see it brought to the floor before the end of the year,” he added.
Earlier in the day, Pelosi said a deal on the replacement United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) was just around the corner.
“I do believe that if we can get this to the place it needs to be, which is imminent, that this can be a template for future trade agreements, a good template,” she said at her weekly press conference.
But despite further calls scheduled with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, details on enforcement provisions and labor remained unfinished, according to Democrats briefed on the status of negotiations Tuesday evening.
“We have consistently said that we want to get to yes on the USMCA, but there are four issues that need to be resolved,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), pointing to enforcement, labor, environment and pharmaceuticals.
“Nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed to,” he added.
Pelosi said her goal was to reach agreement and pass the deal in the final weeks of 2019.
A deal would give both Democrats and President Trump a significant win. Trump made replacing NAFTA a central part of his 2016 election campaign.