After the Trump administration in June said it was expecting to deliver a new North American Free Trade Agreement to Congress for potential passage, that timing has hit a snag. There are only a few weeks before the August recess in the nation’s Capitol, and it does not appear likely that the U.S. Congress will pass a new deal before then.
“I don’t see how that happens in three weeks,” said U.S. Rep. Earl Blumeanauer, D-Ore., chairman of the House Ways and Means trade subcommittee.
The passage of a new trade agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada has been called just that by the Trump administration — calling the revised pact the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement. All three countries signed the new agreement at a summit in Argentina late last year, but of the congressional bodies in the three countries, only the Mexican Congress has passed the pact.
Some in the U.S. Congress have gotten a bit antsy.
“When do you expect the administration will send us that agreement to begin voting on?” Cornyn asked Lighthizer in June during a Congressional hearing.
Lighthizer didn’t provide a date, but said progress had been made.
“My hope is that over the next couple of weeks we can make substantial progress,” Lighthizer said. “I believe we’re on track.”
But that process has slowed, and with the August recess looming, any vote before then is unlikely. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she’s tried to fend off the Trump administration’s chief trade negotiator, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, from infusing the 2020 presidential election into the renegotiation.
“Lighthizer has said, ‘We just don’t want to get this into the presidential.’ And I say, ‘These presidential candidates, there are 20, and I think most of them probably would want a better NAFTA,’” Pelosi said at a press conference before the House adjourned for the July 4 recess. “I certainly don’t speak for them. But, that really doesn’t have anything to do with — it’s about the substance of the agreement, not the politics at all.”
Pelosi added that House Democrats have had some concerns about some of the substance of the agreement.
“We do not want to pass this agreement just slightly different from NAFTA with a little sugar on top and say, ‘See, we did something different,’” she said.