Despite congressional chaos, Pelosi sends positive signals on ratifying USMCA

Democrats and the Trump administration are close to resolving their differences over the deal

Despite congressional chaos, Pelosi sends positive signals on ratifying USMCA

Amid the swirling chaos of impeachment proceedings on Capitol Hill, Nancy Pelosi is sounding bullish about the chances Congress may soon vote to ratify a modified version of Donald Trump’s cherished North American trade pact.

Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, says congressional Democrats and the Trump administration are close to resolving their differences over the deal, known stateside as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA.

“If we can come to terms, (which) I think we’re close to doing, this will be a template for future trade agreements — it will not only be good of itself, but a good pattern for how we can proceed,” Pelosi said.

“We have an opportunity to do it right. We’re not there yet, but we understand the road — the last, shall we say, mile that we have to go. I’m optimistic.”

She made the remarks during a news conference in Washington after lawmakers in the House of Representatives voted 232-196 to approve ground rules for impeachment proceedings against the U.S. president.

Ever since it was reached a year ago, Pelosi has led a chorus of misgivings about the trade agreement’s provisions on labour, enforcement, prescription drugs and environmental standards.

Some observers feared the impeachment controversy would swamp efforts by the White House and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to get the deal ratified — something Trump desperately wants to be able to trumpet during his 2020 re-election efforts.

Recent media reports suggest Pelosi is keen to signal that Congress can still get things done even in the midst of something as disruptive as an impeachment trial.

Canada and Mexico, meanwhile, continue their patient wait. Mexico ratified the agreement — known there as T-MEC — in its Senate earlier this year, while the federal Liberal government has long signalled its intent to follow the American lead.

“I spoke with Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, to congratulate him on his re-election,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador tweeted Thursday.

“We agree to maintain good relations and continue to convince U.S. congressmen about the importance of approving the T-MEC for the benefit of the three nations.”

The chairman of the U.S. House ways and means committee, Richard Neal, is to be in Ottawa next Wednesday, where he will meet with Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland to discuss the new North American Free Trade Agreement and the ratification process in both Canada and the U.S. He is also scheduled to meet with Trudeau.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rick Morgan, Nanaimo Search and Rescue building director, and Carly Trobridge, president and search manager, turn sod to kick off the start of renovations to NSAR’s headquarters Tuesday, Jan. 26. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Nanaimo Search and Rescue getting started on $2.6-million makeover at Harewood headquarters

Renovation project will increase space for vehicles and improve training and management operations

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

A downed power line has sparked a brush fire along Yellow Point Road south of Nanaimo. (Cole Schisler/Black Press)
Downed hydro line sparks brush fire in Yellow Point

North Oyster firefighters and B.C. Hydro on scene along Yellow Point Road

A concrete seawall built to prevent erosion on a property on Driftwood Drive on Mudge Island. (Islands Trust image)
Appeal Court says Mudge Island homeowners’ seawall has to go

Court decides right to guard against erosion isn’t a ‘privileged’ property right

McDonald’s on Nicol Street in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
McDonald’s in Nanaimo reports COVID-19 case

Employee at Nicol Street location last worked Jan. 17

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Emergency crews were called to a three-vehicle crash Monday morning on the old Island Highway close to Rock City Road. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Car, pickup and semi truck crash along the highway in Nanaimo

Incident happened in front of Rock City Plaza on Monday morning

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

A woman wearing a protective face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 walks past a mural in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
5 big lessons experts say Canada should learn from COVID-19

‘What should be done to reduce the harms the next time a virus arises?’ Disease control experts answer

Most Read