The U.S. – Mexico – Canada agreement, USMCA, was agreed to by all three nations last year, so where is it now and when will Congress vote on it?
Trade Promotion Authority
The White House is currently working USMCA through the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) process. This process allows for the agreement to move through Congress without amendments or filibuster.
Step 1: The U.S. International Trade Commission submitted their report in April of 2019. This report assesses the impacts of the USMCA on the U.S. economy, sector-by-sector. Corrections to the report (errata) were added May 21, 2019.
Step 2: (No less than 30 days) The White House submitted on May 30, 2019, a draft statement of administrative action and the final text of the agreement. This kicks off a 30-day period during which House and Senate committees can review the agreement and work with the administration to craft the implementing bill. While an implementing bill cannot be submitted within the 30-day window, there is no limit to how long the White House can take to complete the bill and submit it to the House.
Step 3: (Maximum 60 days) The White House introduces the USMCA final bill to the House of Representatives who must vote on it within 60 days. The House Ways and Means Committee has 45 days to report the bill for consideration on the floor or it will automatically be discharged to the floor for a full House vote. The full House has 15 days to vote once the bill is either reported or discharged to the floor. Should the House fail to hold a vote on the USMCA by this time, it will lose access to the TPA process and will be exposed to the standard legislative process including amendment and filibuster. If the amendment process makes changes unpalatable to Mexico or Canada, this could jeopardize the agreement and the booming economy.
Step 4: House Passage.
Step 5: Once the House passes the bill, the Senate Finance Committee has 15 days to consider the bill and either report it to the floor for a vote or it will be automatically discharged to the floor for a vote.
Step 6: The Senate has 15 days to consider and vote on the bill.
If all goes well and USMCA passes within the TPA process, it could out of Congress by late September, but there are two events that could effect the timeline at this point.
First, negotiations between the House Ways and Means Committee, Senate Finance Committee and the White House could take longer than 30 days to turn the draft language of the USMCA bill into the implementation bill for submission to Congress. There is no limit on how long these negotiations can last, but they must be at least 30 days.
Second, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats have shown no interest in working with the president on much of anything. A landmark achievement like replacing NAFTA would give the president a win that the extreme left-wing of the Democrat party, aka “The Resistance”, would not tolerate. All House Democrats would have to do to derail USMCA is push it out of the TPA process by failing to hold a vote on it within the 60-day window. Then, the bill falls to the normal legislative process where Congressional Democrats will need only to amend or filibuster it to death.
Will Democrats Choose Politics Over America’s Working Families?
The House Ways and Means committee can make itself a critical part of the process or just a trifle step. If the committee chooses to negotiate in good faith with the White House on a bill that will pass the House, it would show that Democrats do value working families over the extremist noise.
If, however, the committee does nothing and lets the bill get discharged to the floor only to have no vote held or have it shot down, the resistance will have killed the fuel necessary to keep the current booming economy growing. This would be a win for China, Mexico, Canada and everyone else – except American working families.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has already expressed her unhappiness that the White House submitted the necessary paperwork to start the Step 2 clock. It demonstrates that she is placing politics over substance and may choose to harm American families just to prevent the president from scoring yet another win.Wake up Right! Subscribe to our Morning Briefing and get the news delivered to your inbox before breakfast!