House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sought to one-up President Donald Trump Tuesday even as she handed him not one, but two victories. Trump welcomed the long-awaited news that Democrats will support the revised United States-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade deal, a sign that Trump could soon sign one of his major legislative priorities into law.
Asked if her caucus backed the move 100%, Pelosi was forced to sidestep: “You don’t have to have unanimity, you just have to have consensus,” she said Monday. We can only guess which far-left Dems are likely to oppose Pelosi’s plan here.
The House could vote as soon as next week, several Democrats told Bloomberg.
Can’t give Trump a win
The bi-partisan breakthrough came, ironically, minutes after Democrats formally announced impeachment articles against Trump Tuesday — possibly lifting Trump’s re-election prospects.
The strange, split-screen display of Pelosi announcing a trade breakthrough with Trump in the same breath as announcing his impeachment rattled some progressives, who said that she had handed Trump a major victory while sending a hopelessly confused message about Democrats’ priorities. But Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) saw an attempt to provide election insurance for moderate Democrats endangered by the impeachment push, the Hill reported.
“If you need any more evidence of how unpopular impeachment is, watch the two press conferences today. After announcing impeachment within less than an hour, the Speaker finally relented and said she would bring USMCA up. She has held it for more than a year making America weaker in our negotiations with China, our No. 1 and No. 2 traders, with Mexico and Canada was being held up within our own agreement,” he told reporters at a press conference on Tuesday.
Pelosi announces deal on USMCA
The deal belies the impeachment drama swallowing up Washington, which Trump and Republicans have said is distracting Democrats from doing important legislative work. Democrats had worked on the deal for months with the White House, but a final agreement had proven elusive as Democrats sought stricter labor and environmental protections — provisions which they have now secured.
Trump, who had previously accused Pelosi of holding up the deal by deferring too much to labor unions, welcomed the news: “Looking like very good Democrat support for USMCA. That would be great for our Country!” he tweeted. “America’s great USMCA Trade Bill is looking good. It will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody – Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions – tremendous support. Importantly, we will finally end our Country’s worst Trade Deal, NAFTA!”
The agreement is good for Trump, who rose to the Oval Office partly on a promise to renegotiate NAFTA to protect American workers. Trump’s protectionist agenda aligns with more traditional left-wing Democrats who criticize the free trade agreement for having betrayed American laborers.
Some of the USMCA’s provisions include a rule requiring half a car’s parts to be produced by workers making a $16 minimum wage to discourage outsourcing to Mexico, a rule establishing that 75 percent of a car’s parts must be made in North America to qualify for zero tariffs, expanded access to Canadian dairy markets for American farmers, and new rules on digital trade. The deal was signed in Mexico Tuesday by negotiators from the three countries.
The AFL-CIO endorsed the USMCA and bashed Trump’s “flawed” initial proposal, while the National Association of Manufacturers said it was “extremely disappointed” that the deal fell short on intellectual property protections, but nevertheless welcomed it for providing “increased certainty” for manufacturing workers.
Votes coming soon
Democrats are now on a tight schedule to vote on the deal and, paradoxically, impeach President Trump before the New Year. In the meantime, it looks like Pelosi played herself by trying to have it both ways. The Speaker just made it a little easier for Trump to claim that he’s working for Americans — while Democrats waste time on a partisan impeachment coup.