Trump’s chief of staff urges lawmakers to approve USMCA

Trump’s chief of staff urges lawmakers to approve USMCA

WASHINGTON, (Rahnuma):  White House acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney on Tuesday called on the Democrats to approve a new trade pact that the United States negotiated with Canada and Mexico.

“You could stay status quo … which is just NAFTA. You could withdraw from NAFTA, which the president has talked about many, many times,” Mulvaney said at the Milken Institute Global Conference in California.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), signed by leaders of the three countries late last year to replace the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), needs to be ratified by lawmakers of the three countries before going into effect.

“Your real two plan Bs are either NAFTA or withdraw from NAFTA,” Mulvaney said, rejecting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s demand to renegotiate elements of the USMCA.

The deal faces a tough road ahead in a split U.S. Congress, as Democrats have repeatedly questioned the deal’s enforceability, especially related to labor and environment protection.

“She (Pelosi) controls the floor, and if it doesn’t come up for a vote, it’s not going to see the light of day,” Mulvaney said.

Mulvaney’s remarks came as U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday met with congressional Democrats to discuss infrastructure investment. During the meeting, Trump repeatedly pressed Democratic leaders on passage of the USMCA, according to media reports.

Besides Democrats’ objection, Chuck Grassley, a top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, has also warned that Congress will not approve the USMCA unless the Trump administration lifts steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico.

“If these tariffs aren’t lifted, USMCA is dead. There is no appetite in Congress to debate USMCA with these tariffs in place,” Grassley wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published on Monday.

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