- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2019

President Trump told Congress on Thursday to approve his rewrite of the North American trade deal, using a visit from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to pressure House Democrats after Mexico moved the ball by ratifying the trilateral pact.

Mr. Trump said Democrats appear to be dragging their feet for political reasons, quipping the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement could pass resoundingly the day after the 2020 election.

“I really believe that [Speaker] Nancy Pelosi and the House will approve it, I think the Senate will approve it rapidly,” Mr. Trump said in the Oval Office. “It’s going to be very bipartisan. It’s great for the farmers, manufacturers, it’s really great for everybody — and unions.”

The pact known as “USMCA” would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Mr. Trump campaigned against as a raw deal for American workers. Mexico overwhelmingly approved the agreement Wednesday, making it the first nation to act.

“It was a very positive vote,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Trudeau. “You’re doing very well I understand, also.”

Mr. Trump negotiated the agreement with Canada and Mexico in the fall, and he’s searching for the votes in Congress to approve it.

The White House says the deal would prevent Canadians from undercutting U.S. dairy farmers on price, ensure that American wheat is graded under the same standards as Canada’s, and bar countries such as China from dumping metals or other products into the U.S. — duty-free — via one of the U.S.’s neighbors.

Mr. Trudeau called it a “great trade deal” for U.S., Canadian and Mexican workers alike.

“We’re moving forward on the ratification process aligned with you,” he told Mr. Trump.

Like Mr. Trump, some liberal Democrats have long complained about NAFTA. Yet House Democrats have been reluctant to bring up the Trump-negotiated deal, saying changes are needed to win their support.

Mrs. Pelosi on Wednesday said her concern remains the lack of mechanisms to enforce the deal.

“If you do not have effective enforcement in the agreement, you’re just having a conversation and you’re going to be having the same problems that you had before,” Mrs. Pelosi told reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

She said there are problems with environmental and pharmaceutical provisions in the deal and that Mexican workers won’t be treated well enough.

“You don’t benefit American workers by suppressing workers in another country. That’s just an invitation for jobs to go to a place where workers don’t get treated well,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

Leaders of the three nations have suggested the deal isn’t open for renegotiation, however.

“I hope politically they can do what they have to do,” Mr. Trump said of Democrats. “I think Nancy Pelosi is going to do the right thing.”

At the Capitol, Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Trudeau said they would discuss a way forward behind closed doors, though mainly stuck to pleasantries about basketball, after the Toronto Raptors defeated the speaker’s Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.

Mr. Trump said he’ll consider hosting the Raptors at the White House, even though they play their home games across the border.

In the meantime, Mr. Trump says little should stand in the way of giving him a much-needed win on trade.

He agreed in May to end his tariffs on aluminum and steel on its North American neighbors, which Republican lawmakers pointed to as been an impediment to approving the trade deal.

The president also withdrew his threat to impose unrelated tariffs on Mexican imports after the southern neighbor agreed to take a harder line on immigrants who traversed their territory to the U.S. border illegally from Central America.

Mr. Trump commended Mexico’s leaders on Thursday.

“It’s really been a tremendous difference,” he said.

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