December 11, 2019

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and President Trump agreed Tuesday that their final version of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA) is better than NAFTA and great for America. Pelosi and Senate Republicans also agreed that House Democrats had wrested significant concessions from Mexico and from the White House over months of tough negotiations. "We stayed on this, and we ate their lunch," Pelosi told fellow Democrats in a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning, according to Politico and The Washington Post.

"The deal didn't come easy — and it was on the brink of death multiple times over the past year," Politico reports. "Getting to yes required negotiations with an ideologically diverse coalition that included congressional Democrats, organized labor and Mexico's private sector, Canadian ministers, and Trump's hard-charging U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer." Lighthizer started negotiating with Pelosi and nine hand-picked House Democrats over the summer, and the Democrats steadily won concessions on prescription drug patents, enforcement mechanisms, environmental protections, and — finally and crucially — labor.

Senate Republicans weren't thrilled when Lighthizer briefed some of them on the USMCA changes Tuesday morning, the Post reports. The negotiations "seemed to be a, you know, just a one-way direction in the direction of the Democrats," Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) told the Post. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said his "concern is that what the administration presented has now been moved demonstrably to Democrats, the direction they wanted. And anything that gets the AFL-CIO's endorsement ...  could be problematic."

The compromises on the revamped NAFTA pact "reflect Trump's eagerness to secure legislative accomplishments he can highlight during his 2020 presidential campaign, as well as the White House's confidence that it risks little backlash from a GOP increasingly molded in Trump's image," the Post reports. One GOP Senate aide told the Post that the Republicans "complaining they are not included are also too scared to vote against [Trump]. So why would he bother negotiating with them?" Peter Weber

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