By Sarah Gonzalez, Director of Communications and Digital Media
House Democrats and the White House have not reached a deal on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), raising concerns about the possibility of getting the trade deal through Congress by the end of the year.
After House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met on Nov. 21, Neal told reporters that they hadn’t reached an agreement, but it’s still “possible” to have a vote in the House by the end of December. Neal characterized the one-hour private meeting as “spirited” and “candid,” and that substantial progress had been made over the last several weeks.
Labor enforcement provisions have been a particular focus for Democrats throughout the negotiations between lawmakers and the Trump administration. Neal told reporters that discussions between Lighthizer, Pelosi and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka would continue during the Thanksgiving recess.
Before the meeting, Pelosi said Congress may not have time to vote on the deal this year. “I’m eager to get this done,” she told reporters, noting that they may need to delay into 2020 to have time to write the implementing bill language and discuss changes with Mexico and Canada.
It has been more than a year since President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexico’s then-President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the deal; thus far, Mexico is the only nation to have ratified agreement, which it did in June 2019.
Last week, the NGFA participated in a coordinated “day of action” in support of USMCA by sharing an updated advocacy message to lawmakers and invited all NGFA members to do the same. As part of the “day of action” advocating USMCA ratification, the NGFA also unveiled a short video that summarizes the benefits of the USMCA for American agriculture. It’s not too late to advocate. NGFA members are asked to express support for the USMCA to their members of Congress by using NGFA’s quick advocacy tool. A pre-drafted email and tweet are available at ngfa.org/advocacy.
The USMCA trade agreement will preserve or expand upon critical market access for U.S. agricultural products in the North American market. NGFA members have noted in their messages that prompt ratification of USMCA is essential to securing much-needed trade agreements with other major U.S. food and ag markets, including Japan and other Pacific Rim countries.