Mexico's President Urges Pelosi to Pass USMCA Amid Impeachment Inquiry
Do you want Congress to pass the USMCA?
by Causes | 10.11.19
Mexican President Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to pass the North American trade deal known as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Obrador spoke positively of the deal, which was ratified by his country earlier this year and will likely be implemented by Canada next year, amid concerns that Congress will fail to pass the trade deal because of the focus on an impeachment inquiry targeting President Donald Trump.
“There’s agreement, and I took the opportunity Mrs. Pelosi a letter explaining that it’s in the interest of the three peoples, the three nations, that this deal is approved,” Obrador said at a press conference.
Pelosi and Democrats have expressed reservations about the enforcement of labor and workplace standards in Mexico, and a delegation including Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA) visited Obrador earlier this week to discuss labor reforms. The USMCA’s implementing legislation hasn’t been introduced yet in Congress as the Trump administration waits for Pelosi’s sign off, but once the implementation bill is introduced it can be considered under the so-called “fast-track.”
What is the fast track?
Trade promotion authority (TPA or fast track authority) allows the president to negotiate trade deals that have to be considered by Congress without amendment and receive votes on the floors of the House and Senate within a timeframe of 90 legislative days.
Once a fast track trade agreement is submitted to Congress by the president, an implementation bill is introduced in each chamber on its next day in session and referred to relevant committees. Committees then have 45 days to consider the bill and report it to the full House, after which it’s automatically discharged for a floor vote within the next 15 days.
(Because tariffs are taxes that generate revenue to the government, the House generally has to consider a trade implementation bill first to avoid a “blue slip” issue that violates the Constitution’s Origination Clause.)
After it’s passed by the House, Senate committees have 15 days to consider the trade bill and report it, otherwise it’d be discharged so that it could get a floor vote within the subsequent 15 days. Only a simple majority is required for such a bill’s passage on the Senate floor.
Fast track authority itself is time-limited and subject to renewal by Congress. It was last extended by the 114th Congress via the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, when the Obama administration was pursuing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It provided fast track authority through July 1, 2018 with a three-year extension available at the president’s request, which the Trump administration took advantage of to keep fast track trade authority available until July 1, 2021.
What will happen when the USMCA reaches the floor?
The USMCA is expected to get near unanimous support from the House’s 197 Republican members, and it may already have a sufficient majority to pass on the floor thanks to Democratic support.
Before the House took its August recess, 14 Democrats wrote to Pelosi urging her to bring up the USMCA by the end of the year and dozens more have expressed that they are “on a path to yes” and hope to vote in favor of the USMCA. Pelosi will hope to secure the backing of a majority of the Democratic caucus before giving the greenlight to the trade deal, which could put allow it to pass with a supermajority in the House ― setting it up to pass the Senate by a similar margin.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: State Dept. via Flickr / Public Domain)
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