A Gordian Knot

Nancy Pelosi’s tactics on the US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement.

By DARLENE CASELLA
September 7, 2019 20:07
4 minute read.
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (photo credit: REUTERS/YURI GRIPAS)

President Donald Trump promised to re-negotiate NAFTA, or to cancel it if negotiations failed. His pledge was for trade deals to benefit middle-class working Americans and not the elite which had been the beneficiaries of previous trade agreements. The president has made changes affecting trade such as withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, and from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiating a trade deal with South Korea, increasing tariffs with China, and replacing NAFTA with the USMCA (United States-Mexico-Canada) Trade Agreement.

The USMCA Agreement was signed by President Donald Trump, Mexico’s previous president, Enrique Pena Nieto, and by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in 2018 during the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires. Each country is required to have treaties ratified by their legislatures. In June 2019, Mexico ratified the agreement with an overwhelming majority of 114 to four. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said, “Now it is up to Canada and the United States.” Trudeau said this is “good for our workers, good for our citizens, good for the middle class.” Canada is working to insure ratification before its parliamentary elections this fall.

With ratification, the economy will have a noteworthy lift. The International Trade Commission estimates the trade deal will increase gross domestic product by $68.2 billion. Presidential economic advisor Larry Kudlow is confident that it will create at least 180,000 new jobs each year. More than 950 organizations from the food and agriculture sectors wrote letters urging Congress to ratify the agreement.

The USMCA would increase environmental and labor regulations, provide incentives for domestic production of cars and trucks, update intellectual property protection, increase access to Canada’s dairy market, advance quotas on Canadian and Mexican automotive production, open markets for US manufactured goods and remove existing barriers, upgrade manufacturing wages, improve labor standards, and elevate all parties to play by the same rules with the same standards.   

Some believe that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pandering to the socialist wing of the Democratic Party, and would rather impart a loss to America than give Trump a win. Unions, environmental, socialist, and other intersectional leftist activist groups agitate against voting for the USMCA. Democrat presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and others have made negative comments regarding the agreement. The “New Democrat Coalition” revealed that its 103 members in Congress would not support USMCA without changes. Pelosi gets a Pinocchio for professing to want a vote, while she perseveres in delaying one.


FOURTEEN HOUSE Democrats sent a letter to Pelosi urging her to bring the USMCA up for a vote. “It is imperative that we reach a negotiated agreement by early in the fall... we need to restore certainty in these critical relationships that support millions of American jobs”.

More than 12 million American jobs depend on trade with Canada and Mexico. Vice President Mike Pence has been traveling to states where this trade deal would most impact workers. He highlighted the car-making provisions in Lancaster, Ohio. US farmers are eager to know their exports to Mexico and Canada will continue.

The Business Roundtable’s combined companies have more than 15 million employees, and $7.5 trillion in revenues. After their Washington meeting with the Business Council of Canada and Consejo Mexicano de Negocios, they urged lawmakers to sign the USMCA into law. Following is an excerpt of their statement:

“Business leaders across North America support timely ratification of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a high-standard, comprehensive trade agreement that will make the North American economy even more vibrant and competitive, drive investment and support the creation of high-value jobs. Trade and investment between the US, Canada and Mexico supports hundreds of thousands of businesses and millions of jobs.”

More than 600 business leaders, agriculture leaders and chambers of commerce from all 50 states sent a letter to Congress asking their representatives to ratify the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The letter states that the benefits of this agreement put American workers first, will strengthen America’s economy, create new jobs, and improve trade between all three countries. They ask that Pelosi bring the USMCA to the House floor for a vote.

Normally, international treaties are ratified by the Senate with no requirement to pass through the House of Representatives. However, when a bill is considered a revenue bill, as this is, it must be passed in the House before the Senate can vote on ratification. Thus, Pelosi controls the timing and passage of the USMCA, which has been stalled for months. Pelosi’s Gordian Knot is bothersome because of her history with successful delay tactics. She delayed president George W. Bush’s trade deals with Colombia, with Panama, and with South Korea until Bush left office. President Barak Obama re-negotiated the terms before those agreements were ratified. 

Will President Trump, like Alexander the Great, find a way to undo the modern Gordian Knot, or will Speaker Pelosi succeed in delay tactics until after the election, with a goal that a Democrat Candidate would take office, and then re-negotiate the terms of the agreement?  

The writer worked as an English teacher, a stockbroker, and owner/president of a small corporation. She is active with the California Republican Party, the Lincoln Club and California Republican Women.


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