USMCA left hanging as clock runs out

President Trump hammered congressional Democrats yet again for dragging their feet on passing his administration's signature trade agreement.

United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement also known as USMCA. The USMCA is set to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, better known as NAFTA.

“I hope they approve USMCA. It's in there, it's a great agreement for the United States. For our farmers, for our manufacturers, for unions, for everything," Trump said. "It's been approved by Mexico and Canada they're waiting. We don't seem to be able to have time for Nancy Pelosi, I call them the do-nothing Democrats. They’re the do-nothing Democrats. And frankly, if they put it up it's going to win very easily."

His comments, made on the way to Chicago, came ahead of a statement from California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, confirming the next step of the impeachment inquiry that will move ahead this week.

Along with Trump, other Republicans including Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley are calling foul, saying it is becoming less likely that the house speaker will bring USMCA, also dubbed NAFTA 2.0, up for ratification this year.

The senator, in calling what House Democrats are doing “stalling tactics”, adds: “President Trump has done his job. He's renegotiated a trade deal, which nearly everyone besides a few Democrats can agree is better than the predecessor we know as NAFTA.”

In recent weeks Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador wrote Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Richard Neal, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, saying that the enforcement for labor rights in the agreement are adequate and he will ensure that the increased minimum wage is adhered too.

Neal will also go to Ottawa in the coming weeks to talk with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the invitation of the Canadians. Trade sources tell FOX Business that Canada will finish their ratification process on USMCA as soon as the U.S. House of Representatives brings it up for a vote. Mexico has already ratified the USMCA.

Trump has already sealed a phase 1 deal with China and a deal with Japan.

There is a lot of pressure to schedule a vote. Former President Barack Obama’s commerce secretary, Gary Locke, is also working the halls of Congress to get House members to a yes.

“We want the agreement passed as soon as possible because it will really benefit many American companies, whether it's the dairy industry or the wine industry of California and my home state of Washington to automotive workers, and even those who engage in e-commerce, whether it's games, software, e-books, and music,” Locke said.


Locke, now working as a consultant for Davis Wright Tremaine added: “We can hold the Mexican Government accountable, we know that the Mexican Government will, in fact, enforce the agreement with respect to labor standards, the building of unions, and quite frankly there are many provisions in here that will benefit American workers and, perhaps, create disincentives for American companies to outsource jobs to either Mexico or to Canada.”

The House Speaker designated a group of nine Democrats as part of the working group. That group has been negotiating with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to get stronger enforcement for labor provisions as well as environmental protections in the agreement.  Pelosi also says they are on a path to "yes" for USMCA, but are just not there yet.

And the clock is ticking, the U.S. Congress has a handful of working days left on the calendar this year. If the agreement isn't approved before the end of 2019, it would be considered during an election year, which could make passage more difficult.

"This is the biggest tragedy I've seen in the swamp, politics over policy, over the country,” said White House trade adviser Peter Navarro during an appearance on FOX Business' “Mornings with Maria” last week.