House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats are coming around on the new trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada that has been a primary goal of President Donald Trump during his tenure in office.
“The idea that we would give a victory to the president is irrelevant. It’s a victory for the American people.”
Trump and his administration have made many efforts on the deal, and the administration has set a goal to get it done by the end of 2019, which would be great considering Canada ($298.7 billion) and Mexico ($265 billion) are far and away the biggest export markets for the United States.
Mexico is the only country of the three that has ratified the agreement so far.
Pelosi says the biggest hang-up for Democrats concerning the new deal, also known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), revolves around enforcement of labor and environmental standards, which could lead to higher drug prices in the U.S.
“But we hope that we’re on a path to yes. The most important issue outstanding is enforceability,” Pelosi told CNBC’s Jim Cramer during an interview Tuesday.
Ratifying a new deal with America’s neighbors to the north and south was a key platform during Trump’s quest for the White House in 2016, and some may worry about handing the president a victory so close to the next election in 2020. But not Pelosi, who argues the USMCA is the best thing for the U.S.
“The idea that we would give a victory to the president is irrelevant,” she said. “It’s a victory for the American people.”
The actual structure of the USMCA still needs some work, though, and Pelosi told Cramer that “there is nothing to bring to the floor yet” to actually debate and potentially ratify.
But that isn’t stopping some Republicans and Democrats in areas that deal heavily in trade with Canada and Mexico from pressuring Democratic leaders to move it along. Ohio Republican Senator Rob Portman told CNBC earlier Tuesday the labor and environmental standards Democrats are clamoring for are already part of the USMCA.
But it may not be enough at the moment. Trump and Democratic leaders are trying to avoid another NAFTA situation where American manufacturing took a major hit in 1994 when the deal went into effect because jobs got outsourced.