By Zachary Stieber
The deal, known as USMCA, was agreed upon last year. While Mexico’s Senate has ratified the deal, Pelosi has resisted bringing it to a vote in the Democrat-controlled House, arguing worker protections aren’t strong enough and that negotiations are ongoing.
“Let us move forward with the USMCA promptly, to ensure that the electoral process in your country, with the debates and passions typical of all democracies, doesn’t prevent or delay the conclusion of such an important event,” Obrador wrote in the letter, which was sent on Tuesday but not made public until Friday.
“I am convinced that history will judge us favorably for approving this needed platform of friendship, cooperation, and prosperity between our societies and nations.”
The president said his country’s recently approved 2020 budget includes the $70 million financial commitment he made in the USMCA agreement.
He told Pelosi that he was reiterating what he’d told House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “You can be assured that we will fulfill our labor-related commitments.”
“In the first place, and most importantly, you can be assured that we will fulfill these labor commitments because Mexico has raised them to the Constitutional level. In addition, the secondary rules needed to enforce these laws have been established and funds have been provided for their successful implementation,” Obrador said.
“Furthermore, we will be strengthening our regional dispute settlement system in accordance with our federal pact. Also, as you know, the treaty has already been approved by the Mexican Senate. All of this ensures that Mexico has fully complied with its commitments just as I stated to you in my previous letter.”
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have also been pushing Pelosi to bring USMCA to a vote, accusing her caucus of being too focused on trying to impeach Trump to spare much attention to the replacement for NAFTA.
At the White House earlier this week, Trump told reporters that Pelosi “is incapable of moving” the deal.
“It looks like she can’t. Everybody knows it’s a great deal. She knows it’s a great deal; she said it. She keeps saying she wants to get it done, but we’re talking about many, many months sitting on her desk, no votes. And she doesn’t have to help with the Democrats because they’re going to vote for it—most of them,” he said.
“And, I guess, all of the Republicans are going to vote for it. But the system is—the way the system works, she has to put it up for a vote. And she hasn’t wanted to do it.”
If the deal falls through, “we’ll just blame Nancy,” Trump said.
Pelosi has sounded hopeful at times and cautious at others. On Nov. 21, she told reporters she didn’t think the deal would be approved by the end of the year. On Monday, she said that “we are within range of a substantially improved agreement for America’s workers.”
She has also insisted that Democrats’ focus on impeachment hasn’t affected the trade deal. “They have nothing to do with each other,” she said on Oct. 31.
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