(CNSNews.com) – President Trump on Tuesday berated House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for a lack of movement over the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), and suggested a link between the purported holdup and the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.
“We have to get USMCA signed,” Trump told reporters in reference to the key trade deal that is intended to replace the 25-year-old $1 trillion NAFTA. “Nancy Pelosi can’t get it off her desk. Just can’t do it.”
Trump said the Democrats, labor unions, farmers, and manufacturers want the agreement.
“I think the woman is grossly incompetent,” he said. “And we’re having a problem, because Mexico and Canada are calling, saying, ‘What’s going on?’ And it’s sitting on her desk.”
“The woman is grossly incompetent,” Trump repeated. “All she wants to do is focus on impeachment, which is just a little pipedream she’s got. And she can keep playing that game.”
Trump said he has been told on “pretty good authority” that Pelosi is “using the USMCA to get the impeachment vote.”
“I’ve been told – and who knows if this is so, but I think it’s so. I have pretty good authority on it – that’s she’s using USMCA, because she doesn’t have the impeach – impeachment votes. So she’s using USMCA to get the impeachment vote.”
After talking for several minutes about the House Intelligence Committee’s impeachment inquiry, Trump described it as “a disgrace” and “an embarrassment to our nation.”
“And, in the meantime, we can’t get USMCA approved because Nancy Pelosi is grossly incompetent,” he said, again.
Pelosi’s office did not respond by press time to queries about Trump’s claims, and about the USMCA consideration process.
Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the deal in Buenos Aires on November 30 last year.
It will enter into force only after the three countries’ legislatures have ratified it, and so far, only Mexico’s Senate has done so, last June. (The Canadian process was held up by the dissolution of parliament ahead of last month’s federal election.)
With a congressional recess around a month away, some experts worry that the USMCA could be in danger.
Derek Scissors, a senior trade expert at the American Enterprise Institute, warned recently that if the deal is not passed by then it could run into obstacles.
“A basic reason for this year constituting a deadline is Members of Congress usually return from longer recesses looking for more protection for their state or district, not more trade,” he wrote.
“Another reason: Senators [Bernie] Sanders and [Elizabeth] Warren are opposed, which will make it increasingly difficult for Congressional Democrats to vote for USMCA as the presidential primary continues,” he added, referring to two leading contenders in the Democratic 2020 presidential race.
Despite Trump’s assertion Tuesday that “the unions want it,” the AFL-CIO has been critical of some aspects of the negotiated deal – sometimes called the “new NAFTA” – particularly around labor standards in Mexico.
“There are a number of critical issues that we’ve continued to raise,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said in a speech last August. “But chief among them is this: the proposed new NAFTA is simply not enforceable. In particular, Mexico has yet to demonstrate that it has the resources and infrastructure to follow through on its promised reforms.”
“Trade without enforcement is a windfall for corporations and a disaster for workers,” he said. “We want to get to yes. But, if Mexico can’t ensure workers’ ability to bargain for higher wages through real unions, the entire deal is a non-starter.”
On Tuesday Trumka met with Pelosi and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) “and reviewed progress in House Democrats’ USMCA negotiations with the U.S. Trade Representative,” Neal’s office said in a statement.
“We can reach an agreement on USMCA when the Trade Representative makes the new NAFTA agreement enforceable for America’s workers,” it said.
In a letter to Neal last month, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador committed his government to labor reforms.
The National Association of Manufacturers, together with more than 350 associations and businesses, last month urged Congress in a letter to ratify the USMCA “as soon as possible this autumn,” saying the agreement will “spur growth and much-needed certainty within the critical North American market.”
Last June more than 960 national, state and local agricultural organizations and businesses signed a letter calling on Congress to approve the USMCA.
Saying food and agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada had grown under NAFTA from $9 billion in 1993 to nearly $40 billion in 2018, the groups said the new deal builds on NAFTA’s success, “and will ultimately lead to freer markets and fairer trade.”
“This modernized trade agreement makes improvements to further enhance U.S. food and agricultural exports to our neighbors and would deliver an additional $2.2 billion in U.S. economic activity.”