WASHINGTON – A group of U.S. senators is pushing President Donald Trump to fast-track the final text of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement so Congress can vote on it before the end of the year.
The 12 Republican senators, including Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander and outgoing Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, warn that getting the trade pact approved will be more difficult next year with a Democrat majority in the House of Representatives.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already said Congress won’t deal with the agreement until sometime next spring – although that was before midterm elections last month upended the balance of power on Capitol Hill.
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Since then, a number of House Democrats, including California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, have indicated they want to see more robust enforcement mechanisms for the agreement’s labour and environment clauses before they will ratify it.
To expedite a vote, the senators have written to Trump to say the White House must submit the final legal text and a draft statement of administrative action before Nov. 30, the date the three countries are expected to sign the agreement.
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However, it’s not at all clear whether Congress – which will be seized next week with the risk of another partial government shutdown – would have time to deal with USMCA even if the text is submitted before Nov. 30.