Pence says it’s ‘vital’ for Congress to pass US-Mexico-Canada trade deal



Sylvan Lane | The Hill

Vice President Pence said Tuesday that it is “vital” that Congress pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), saying it would boost the U.S. economy and strengthen President Trump’s hand as he negotiates with China on trade.

In remarks to the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., Pence said the Trump administration has “ended the era of economic surrender” and touted the president’s trade agenda as one that puts American jobs and workers first.

“It’s absolutely vital for Congress to pass the USMCA,” Pence said.

The new USMCA was signed by three countries last year but has not been approved by Congress. It would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump has repeatedly denigrated.

Pence’s remarks at the Heritage Foundation represent the latest effort by the White House to pressure Congress to approve the USMCA.

Democrats have voiced concerns about labor, environmental and pharmaceutical standards of the bill, in addition to its enforceability. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has remained noncommittal on the timing of a vote on the measure, though she told CNBC in an interview Tuesday that Democrats hope they are on “a path to yes” on the agreement.

“But we hope that we’re on a path to yes. The most important issue outstanding is enforceability,” Pelosi said.

Pence did not mention Democrats’ concerns about the trade pact on Tuesday but expressed optimism that the administration could reach an agreement with Congress to pass the trade pact by the end of the year.

“I believe we can get it done this year,” Pence said.

Pence said the agreement would boost U.S. investments, exports and jobs and also claimed it would help the administration as it negotiates with China on an agreement to end a trade war with Beijing that has unsettled global markets and piqued fears about the prospect of U.S. economic downturn.