WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nexstar) — After avoiding steps that would have added new tariffs for Mexico, the United States’ next steps on the trade agenda seem to be a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement called the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
Many US farmers, ranchers and manufacturers feel USMCA is essential to their continued success but the agreement would still need Congressional approval.
U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) believes it’s time to get moving on the agreement.
“I am hopeful we can get that passed here in the Congress once it is sent over from the administration,” he said. “Why would we jeopardize the passage of USMCA? Why would we hurt our economy while trying to punish Mexico for not doing more?”
President Donald Trump and many Republican lawmakers have said getting USMCA approved is among their top priorities, though Democrats have remained skeptical of the deal.
The trade deal has been on hold in Washington for months, getting delayed by a number of issues including the immigration battle last week during which Trump threatened to impose 5% tariffs on imports from Mexico.
The deal was reached between US and Mexico to avoid the tariffs and U.S. Congressman Ron Estes (R-Kansas) believes there’s no time to waste.
“The #USMCA is critical for Kanas and critical for the country,” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s time we secure this free and fair trade deal that manufacturers, farmers and ranchers in the heartland and throughout our country deserve.”
Top Washington Democrats are less convinced of the deal.
“We can’t be for a bill that does not improve the lot of America’s working families,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California).
Pelosi said she wanted to see changes to the agreement’s labor, environmental and enforcement provisions.
“You have to have enforcement as part of the agreement,” she said. “Not as part of a sidebar letter or bills that we might pass in each country. Part of the agreement.”
Pelosi, meanwhile, has also made it clear she will not bring the deal up for a vote in the House if her concerns are not addressed.