Sen. Cornyn says NAFTA 2.0 vote looking unlikely before end of year

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn on Thursday said he is becoming “increasingly pessimistic” that the U.S. House will vote on the new North American Free Trade Agreement before the end of the year, just days after one of the Rio Grande Valley’s three members of Congress, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, predicted Congress could come to an agreement this week.

“I’m worried that we’re going to run out of time,” Cornyn told reporters on a conference call on Thursday. He added: “Once the articles of impeachment come over to the Senate, we can’t do anything else.”

Also on Thursday, Cuellar’s two Valley colleagues, U.S. Reps. Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela, issued a joint statement calling on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to “secure a firm commitment from the Mexican government to guarantee the protection of highways between the United States and Mexico used for trade and tourism.”

The ask from Gonzalez and Vela as the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement flirts with a congressional vote represents another hurdle for the pact’s passage, which has not yet been authorized by the Congress but was signed more than a year ago by the leaders of the three North American countries.

“Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and every president before him for more than a decade has promised to clean up crime in Mexico to no avail,” said Gonzalez, who has been pushing for more security along highways in northern Mexico, a source of regular commercial truck traffic heading to the United States. “We can no longer afford to be silent. This trade pact is critical to our economy and we need to get this right or risk standing in the way of our own economic success.”

Vela also underscored the importance of security in northern Mexico related to trade.

“Security along trade routes is essential to the success of any trade agreement,” Vela said. “We must continue to work with our Mexican partners to address trade in a comprehensive manner — that includes addressing security issues — for the continued prosperity of both of our economies.”