57°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Pence urges Congress to approve trade deal

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence pushed for Congress to ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement at the conservative Heritage Foundation Tuesday.

Pence didn’t mention one thing during his speech, the name or title the leader without whom the trade agreement, dubbed USMCA, will not happen: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi on Tuesday told CNBC’s Jim Cramer that “we hope that we’re on a path to yes. The most important issue outstanding is enforceability.”

Without her support, a new pact is unlikely. As a Center for Strategic and International Studies online series noted, Pelosi “will have the final decision on when the agreement is brought to a vote. The longer the vote is delayed, though, the more likely it is that the USMCA falls victim to 2020 election politics and becomes a difficult issue for Democrats.”

Pelosi rejected the notion that Democrats would spurn the deal rather than give Trump a win ahead of the 2020 election. “The idea that we would give a victory to the president is irrelevant,” Pelosi told CNBC. “It’s a victory for the America people.”

But Mark Harkins, senior fellow at Georgetown University’s Government Affairs Institute, thinks politics could scuttle a deal. “I think there’s an awful lot on the table in front of that. We can’t even figure out how to keep the government open after Oct. 1.”

Pelosi needs win-win

Harkins rattled off other unsolved issues in Washington – impeachment, universal background checks for gun purchases, funding for a wall on the southern border – and predicted USMCA would not pass unless Pelosi can notch up some other legislative victories.

“Everything goes away starting in January and February,” when the speaker will let the likely Democratic nominee set policy, he said.

Another factor, Harkins offered, is that trade pacts are more favorable to states than to congressional districts, where urban areas enjoy better representation than they do in the Senate.

James Carafano, Heritage’s vice president for national security and foreign policy, thinks the pact can be ratified this year. The argument against passage for Democrats is that “it gives the president a win. But look, there’s a lot of Democrats who want to vote for this.”

It was almost a year ago on Oct. 1 that President Donald Trump took to the Rose Garden to announce the deal “to terminate and replace NAFTA,” which he described as “perhaps the worst trade deal ever made.”

U.S., Canada yet to act

The announcement was followed by a signing ceremony on Nov. 20, 2018. Mexico ratified the treaty in June by a 114 to 4 vote, but the Canadian parliament and Congress have yet to ratify the pact.

As a show of support, Mexican Ambassador to the United States Martha Barcena and Canadian Ambassador to the United States Kirsten Hillman sat in the front row.

The White House has dispatched Pence to multiple venues to serve as the in-house wrangler for the trade measure, which the International Trade Commission estimated would create nearly 180,000 American jobs.

Pence told the Heritage Foundation audience that a USMCA deal also would strengthen Trump’s hand as he wrestles with China over trade.

Trump, Pence noted, “has done his job. Canada and Mexico are doing their job. Now we need Congress to do its job and pass the USMCA.”

For months, Pelosi has been negotiating with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer for provisions to protect labor standards, prevent prescription drug price increases and include environmental protections.

An editorial last week in the Washington Post noted, “As for the Democrats’ expressed objections to the enforcement provisions for labor and environmental rules, or what they decry as unduly long patent protections for the makers of brand-name drugs, similar objections have been raised to other trade deals in the past, and Ms. Pelosi found compromises. She could do so again.”

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - Video
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - Video
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Media's Double Standard On Incitement And Trump - Video
Over the weekend, an Elizabeth Warren-supporting socialist who opposed gun violence used a rifle to commit a mass murder in Dayton, Ohio. The media has downplayed that aspect of the tragedy.
Project Our Care Tour Kicks Off In Las Vegas
U.S. Rep. Dina Titus joined health care advocates and local residents as part of Protect Our Care’s nationwide bus tour kick off in Las Vegas on Monday, August 5, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders talks about guns, response to El Paso shooting
Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke about his response and continued policy ideas about guns and gun control to the Review-Journal after a panel of other topics. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pete Buttigieg On Gun Control And Climate Change - Video
Pete Buttigieg talks about his campaign for the 2020 election and how Nevada is a vision of what the future can be.
Beto O'Rourke speaks in Las Vegas
Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke spoke to supporters at the East Las Vegas Community Center in Las Vegas, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Nevada Senate leader Kelvin Atkinson sentenced to prison
Former Nevada Senate Majority Leader Kelvin Atkinson, who pleaded guilty to misusing campaign funds, was sentenced to 27 months in prison on Thursday, July 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
US, Russia send envoys as Turks defy ceasefire pressure

As Russia and the U.S. launched diplomatic forays to end Turkey’s invasion of Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defied pressure for a ceasefire and said the only way the offensive would end was if Syrian Kurdish fighters leave a designated border area “by tonight.”

State official tells impeachment panel about Ukraine, ‘three amigos’

Behind closed doors, career State Department official George Kent testified Tuesday he was told by administration officials to “lay low” on Ukraine as “three amigos” tied to the White House took over U.S. foreign policy toward the Eastern European ally.

Elizabeth Warren takes brunt of attacks during Dem debate

A dozen Democratic presidential candidates participated in a spirited debate Tuesday over health care, taxes, gun control and impeachment.

EU says Brexit deal in sight but UK still must do more

This week’s EU leaders’ meeting — the last scheduled summit before the Brexit deadline — was long considered the last opportunity to approve a divorce agreement.

Stanley Cup champion Blues visit Trump at White House

Like previous NHL champions, they decided to keep with the long-held tradition of visiting the president at the White House.