- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi late Monday said her troops are willing to take up President Trump’s prized rewrite of the North American trade deal once the administration drafts a way to enforce its labor provisions, saying right now the pact amounts to “promises on paper.”

Mrs. Pelosi rattled off a list of complaints her House Democratic caucus has had with the U.S. Mexico Canada deal, or “USMCA,” for months, as Mr. Trump accuses her of denying him a crucial win heading into an election year.

“The original draft of the new NAFTA agreement, while promising in some regard, still left American workers exposed to losing their jobs to Mexico, included unacceptable provisions to lock in high prescription drug prices, and fell short of key environmental standards,” Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said. “Above all, the NAFTA 2.0 draft lacked the concrete, effective enforcement mechanisms needed to ensure that the agreement became more than a list of promises on paper.”

She said after lengthy negotiations with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, it is up to the administration to put pen to paper.

“We are within range of a substantially improved agreement for America’s workers. Now, we need to see our progress in writing from the trade representative for final review,” Mrs. Pelosi said.

Republicans have been complaining about the lack of House action on the deal for months. They say Democrats claim they want to get to yes, but are moving the goal posts and absorbed in an impeachment inquiry instead of focusing on legislative achievements.

Democrats insist they’re the ones trying to make it a good deal for workers who felt left in the lurch by the first iteration of the 1990s-era NAFTA agreement.

The standoff has turned bitter in recent days, with Mr. Trump unloading on Mrs. Pelosi.

“It’s sitting on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. She’s incapable of moving it. It looks like she can’t. Everybody knows it’s a great deal,” Mr. Trump said during a meeting with the Bulgarian prime minister Monday. “She keeps saying she wants to get it done, but we’re talking about many, many months sitting on her desk, no votes.”

Mr. Trump has blamed labor leaders, particularly AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka, for the delay, saying they want to delay or deny a crucial win for the White House.

“Nancy Pelosi should put it up for a vote because, at some point pretty soon, you’re going to have Canada and you’re going to have Mexico say, ‘What’s going on? Send the agreement back. Let’s not make the deal.’ And I wouldn’t blame them at all,” Mr. Trump said. “And that’s okay. We’ll just blame Nancy.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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