Pelosi: New Mexico-Canada trade pact 'not ready'
U.S. House speaker seeks changes in USMCA
By Ted Cox
SPRINGFIELD — U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the new U.S. trade pact with Canada and Mexico is “not ready” for congressional ratification.
“It isn’t ready,” Pelosi said in an interview session with reporters after speaking at the annual Illinois Democratic County Chairs’ Association brunch in Springfield on Wednesday. “What might be acceptable in Mexico are not strong enough assurances that it really will be better.”
President Trump rejected the controversial North American Free Trade Agreement and set out to reach a new trade pact with the closest U.S. neighbors, negotiated last fall. Mexico has affirmed it, but the U.S. Congress has not.
“We all want to improve NAFTA,” Pelosi said. “But the fact is we can’t really say we’re changing it and not really making a big difference.”
Illinois farmers cheered the pact last fall, but Pelosi said three main issues remain.
Pelosi said a primary concern is “workers’ rights in all of the countries involved, but making sure America’s working families get a fair shake. We need other assurances there.”
She added that environmental regulations were still a problem as well. “Many of our (Democratic) members (in Congress) feel there is not enough environmental protection,” Pelosi said. “We need to improve on what NAFTA was supposed to do for the environment, but didn’t.”
Critics have also complained about elements of the pact that limit generic drug sales by extending U.S. protections on intellectual property in pharmaceuticals. Pelosi said the issue is whether that will make drugs “more expensive in our country.”
“But overarching all of that is enforcement,” she added. “It doesn’t matter what good things you set if you don’t have adequate enforcement.”
Pelosi praised the Trump administration’s top trade negotiator for being receptive to changes and capable of adding them to the agreement, but she insisted, “It has to really make a difference in the lives of America’s workers.”
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Channahon Republican, pushed for a vote on the USMCA on the House floor while meeting with farmers at the Boone County Fair earlier this week.