Vice President Mike Pence on Monday called upon Congress to pass the new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico by the end of this summer, putting pressure on House Democrats now holding up a vote on the pact.
“The president has done his job. It’s time for the Congress to do its job and pass the USMCA this summer,” Pence said in a speech in Jacksonville, Fla., using the abbreviation for the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
The push comes as Democrats in Congress say they still have a number of concerns about the agreement’s labor, environmental and pharmaceutical provisions, as well as the pact’s overall enforceability.
Pence did not acknowledge any of those concerns in his speech, nor did he mention the possibility of President Donald Trump withdrawing from NAFTA if Congress balks at ratifying its intended replacement this year.
Instead, Pence argued the USMCA must be approved to correct NAFTA’s deficiencies and to spur U.S. economic growth.
“I’m here to ask for your help,” Pence told the crowd. “We can’t afford for Congress to do nothing. We need Congress to approve the USMCA this summer to keep America growing.”
Pence hailed a deal struck with Canada and Mexico last week that lifted U.S. tariffs on their steel and aluminum exports in exchange for those countries dropping retaliatory duties they imposed on U.S. agricultural goods and other exports.
“Our great farmers can begin doing business again in Canada and Mexico. The retaliatory tariffs are gone. It’s a big deal,” Pence said.
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