As expected, the U.S. Senate will not consider the updated North American Free Trade Agreement, known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, in 2018. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Bloomberg News a vote on the updated agreement would not happen until after the New Year, saying, “My trade advisers say you can’t possibly do it under the various steps that we have to go through.” However, McConnell said, “There’s no question this will be on the top of the agenda” next year.
The outcome of the November midterm elections could make the path forward for USMCA a challenge. If Democrats gain control of the House, they could ask the White House to make changes to the updated agreement before voting, or simply disapprove the agreement altogether. While unlikely, some Republican Senators, including Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, have commented that a vote this year on the updated agreement would avoid any potential political conflict next year.
Progress on the farm bill following the November midterm elections could be stalled even further, depending on the need for disaster relief stemming from Hurricane Michael. House Agriculture Committee ranking Democrat Collin Peterson this week speculated congress members from states impacted by the hurricane will pressure lawmakers to “either add something to the farm bill or appropriations,” according to Politico. Peterson says those efforts “could potentially give us more problems to solve than we already have.”
The 2014 farm bill expired at the end of September and top ag lawmakers expected the new farm bill to be passed following the midterm elections. Those close to the negotiations continue to work on the farm bill, but the House and Senate are both on recess until after the elections, and conference committee members report little progress on all titles of the farm bill.
Source: NAFB News Service