New Democrats Urge Lighthizer to Resolve Outstanding USMCA Issues
WASHINGTON – Six members of the New Democrat Coalition wrote the U.S. Trade Representative on Monday urging him to respond to congressional concerns regarding the new North American Free Trade agreement, known as USMCA, to ensure its successful bipartisan passage.
“While we appreciate your willingness to listen, we have not seen any meaningful progress or tangible proposals from you to address these concerns,” wrote Representative Derek Kilmer, D-Washington, the chairman of the New Democrat Coalition, in the letter to Ambassador Robert Lighthizer.
He was joined in sending the letter, by Representative Suzan DelBene, D- Wash., vice chair of the group, and Representatives Ron Kind, D-Wis., Rick Larsen, D-Wash., Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., and Lizzie Fletcher, D-Texas.
The representatives stress their belief that it was clear from the outset of talks that such proposals are necessary for a successful resolution of concerns over the trade deal, and they remind Lighthizer they were “troubled” when he sent a draft State of Administrative Action to Capitol Hill on May 30 without consulting House members beforehand.
“We … strongly urge you not to make the same mistake twice,” the coalition members say.
If it is approved by all three countries, the USMCA would replace the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement. But in the U.S., House Speaker Pelosi has objected to the deal, saying it lacks adequate mechanisms to enforce its labor and environmental provisions, or rein in the cost of prescription drugs.
As speaker, Pelosi is under no obligation to bring the USMCA up for a vote until her concerns are addressed. Under current rules, the earliest the USMCA could pass in a House vote, should one be allowed, would be in the second week of July.
In the meantime, Pelosi has established four working groups of lawmakers to meet with Lighthizer and his staff to try to hammer out a solution.
“It is our belief, as legislators intimately involved with the law under which the new NAFTA was negotiated, that moving forward with implementing legislation absent the agreement of Democratic leadership would almost certainly be taken as a failure to fulfill the consultation requirements of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015,” the representatives say.
The New Democrats close on a positive note, telling Lighthizer they remain optimistic that outstanding concerns can be addressed in a timely manner. However, they also warn that any action by the Trump administration to send implementing text to the Hill ahead of these resolutions or without an agreement from Democratic Leadership would be premature and unproductive.
The trade representative’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In The News
WASHINGTON — The Senate handed President Donald Trump a policy victory on Thursday, backing USMCA, the new North American trade deal, the same day the chamber turned its attention to the president's impeachment trial. Once it's signed by Trump, USMCA will replace the 25-year-old North American... Read More
WASHINGTON — After nearly two years of a bruising trade war, President Donald Trump signed a trade deal with China on Wednesday that provides the president with political bragging rights but allows both sides to put off the most difficult disputes until after the November election.... Read More
WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeff Merkley faced a difficult vote Tuesday as he joined colleagues on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to advance the bill that would implement President Donald Trump’s new trade deal. The Oregon Democrat said the pact does not go far enough... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday gave its approval to the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, moving it a step closer to ratification. The 25-3 vote by the committee sent the trade deal, also known simply as USMCA, to the full Senate. The House approved... Read More
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — President Donald Trump says he will sign the first phase of a trade deal with China at the White House next month. Trump says Tuesday in a tweet that he'll then travel to Beijing at a later date to open... Read More
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top trade negotiator and senior Democrats have declared that with House passage of a rewrite of Nafta, they’ve found a formula for Republicans and Democrats to forge trade deals despite Washington’s deep partisan divide. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement passed the House in... Read More