House Working Group Says It’s Making Progress On NAFTA Replacement

July 30, 2019 by Dan McCue
Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal .(Neal.House.Gov/TNS)

WASHINGTON – A House working group formed to negotiate changes to President Donald Trump’s proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi last week that while it’s made substantial progress, it’s still waiting for a counter proposal for requested changes from the White House.

The nine-member working group, comprised entirely of House Democrats, has met four times with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and several members traveled to Mexico the weekend of July 20, to meet with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, his cabinet and others.

“These interactions with leaders and the land and people in Mexico have reinforced the importance of the working group’s responsibilities and the proposals we are making,” the working group wrote in a letter to Pelosi on July 26.

If it is approved by all three countries, the USMCA would replace the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement. So far Mexico is the only signatory to ratify the agreement; Canada has been waiting to see what Congress will do with the proposal before scheduling a vote of its own.

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, she is under no obligation to bring the USMCA up for a vote until her concerns are addressed.

This concerns the Canadians both because they fear President Donald Trump will follow through on earlier threats to blow up the existing agreement without a new one in place, and because the uncertain status of the new deal is bound to be an issue in Canada’s federal elections, set to begin in September.

As a result, meetings between congressional staffers and Lighthizer’s office during the August recess are considered critical.

In its letter, the working group said it would “share text” this week “that memorializes the concrete and detailed proposals that we have made.”

“We have laid out clear and specific objectives and proposals designed to fix flaws in the new agreement affecting all stakeholders, especially American workers and regular people who need affordable access to healthcare and medicines,” the letter said. “Now it is time for Ambassador Lighthizer to honor his commitment and provide responses and counter-proposals as soon as possible.”

The House Democratic working group is led by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., and includes Representatives Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., chairman of the House subcommittee on trade, Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., John Larson, D-Conn., Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Mike Thompson, D-Calif., Terri Sewell, D-Ala., Suzanna Bonamici, D-Ore., and Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif.

Representative Blumenauer led the Mexico delegation, which included Representatives DeLauro, Sewell and Gomez, along with six other House members.

Those unidentified members were presumably Republicans, since the letter refers to the journey to Mexico City, San Luis Potosi and Tijuana as “a bipartisan trip to meet with Mexican government officials … experts and factory workers.”

To date the working group has identified four major areas for improvement, access to affordable medicines, worker protections, environmental protections and enforcement.

In a written statement posted to the House Ways and Means Committee website, Chairman Neal said House Democrats “remain committed to working diligently with Ambassador Lighthizer on this agreement. The timeline for consideration of the revised deal depends on the administration’s willingness to negotiate with us in good faith to address House Democrats’ concerns.”

The office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In The News

Health

Voting

Trade

Princess Reema bint Bandar Says American Childhood Prepared Her for Ambassadorship
Political News
Princess Reema bint Bandar Says American Childhood Prepared Her for Ambassadorship
June 1, 2021
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar remembers DC’s cicadas. In fact, she says she lived through the “cicada invasion” twice during her “non-diplomatic, but highly socially-connected” childhood in Northern Virginia while her father served as Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States from... Read More

US Advances First USMCA Dispute Panel Over Canadian Dairy Practices
Trade
US Advances First USMCA Dispute Panel Over Canadian Dairy Practices
May 25, 2021
by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON - The United States has requested the first ever dispute panel to settle a trade conflict under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced Tuesday. The United States is challenging Canada’s allocation of dairy tariff-rate quotas, specifically the set-aside of a percentage... Read More

Tai Dedicates First Speech as USTR to Greening of U.S. Trade Policy
Trade
Tai Dedicates First Speech as USTR to Greening of U.S. Trade Policy
April 19, 2021
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — On March 17, 2021, Ambassador Katherine Tai was confirmed as U.S Trade Representative by unanimous vote in the Senate. Just a month later, in her first speech as USTR, Tai explained how the benefits of global trade could work as a powerful incentive for... Read More

Defense Department Seeks Comments on Supply Chain Risks for Critical Materials
Defense
Defense Department Seeks Comments on Supply Chain Risks for Critical Materials
April 15, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - The Defense Department is seeking comments on risks to the supply chain for strategic and critical materials. In February, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing the Defense Department and three other federal agencies to closely examine America’s supply chains in four critical... Read More

U.S. Trade Deficit Hits Record High in February
Trade
U.S. Trade Deficit Hits Record High in February
April 7, 2021
by TWN Staff

WASHINGTON - The U.S. trade deficit surged to a record high in February as the nation’s economic activity rebounded more quickly than that of other nations carefully shake off the economic hardships associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The trade deficit jumped 4.8% to a record $71.1... Read More

Goldmine of New Resources for Railroads
Transportation
Goldmine of New Resources for Railroads
April 5, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- Virginia’s plan for a $3.7 billion passenger rail expansion was revolutionary on Tuesday when the governor announced it but later in the week looked like the tip of the iceberg. The next day, President Joe Biden presented his plan for $2.2 trillion in infrastructure improvements,... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top