Ratification of the US-Mexico-Canada trade deal is now off until September at the earliest, with the House gone for a six-week summer recess and the Senate to follow this week. And that has farm-state Republicans losing patience with the process.
The deal affects more than a trillion dollars in trade and adds billions for U.S. farmers with new export access for dairy, poultry, eggs, wheat, and wine. Livestock groups say USMCA approval is their “number one priority.” But Democrats have slowed approval, arguing the deal needs tougher enforcement of labor and environmental protections. Republicans say it’s already the toughest deal ever, and it’s enforceable.
House GOP Whip Steve Scalise hinted to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer recently, Republicans are frustrated with Democrats’ mantra that they want to “get to ‘yes’” on USMCA.
“Hopefully, we can move beyond trying to ‘get to yes,’ and actually have a bill where we can whip that and get to ‘yes.’”
Democratic Leader Hoyer could not say when Speaker Nancy Pelosi would allow House action, arguing it depends on continuing talks with Trump Trade Ambassador Robert Lighthizer.
“And, if we can get to an agreement, we will move it as quickly as possible…but we need to make sure that the protections that are referenced in the document, will, indeed be the protections that are effected—and enforceable.”
But the bigger question is whether USMCA ratification, seen as a ‘win’ for the president, will survive the politics of a bitter ‘run-up’ to election season. Speaker Pelosi, already embroiled in several ugly, public fights with Trump, has called once for a “surgical” reopening of USMCA—unlikely after Mexico’s approval of the deal, and Canadian elections expected in October.