“I’ve got to sit down with them,” Grassley said. “If they’re reaching the point where you have to go back to the negotiating table, I would encourage the president to pull out of NAFTA, and I would hope that they’re smart enough to not let that happen. Because why would you want to go back to an environment where there’s higher tariffs on our products into Mexico, than them getting their products into this country? It just doesn’t meet the common sense test.”
In April 2008, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as House speaker, changed House rules, which effectively delayed congressional passage of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement until October 2011, after the Obama administration renegotiated parts of the deal.
Pelosi, who just reassumed the speakership after the House switched from GOP to Democrat control, in December expressed interest about enforceability of the USMCA’s labor and environmental provisions, saying the pact is “just a list” if it can’t be enforced.
Speaking during a briefing with reporters, Grassley said he would expect that any U.S. trade agreement can be enforced.
“So if they’re worried about enforcement, we’re going to be on the same page on that,” he said.
Pelosi’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Speaking after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's State of American Business, Chamber CEO Tom Donohue cautioned against withdrawing from NAFTA prior to Congress passing USMCA, noting that 14 million U.S. jobs benefit from the existing agreement.
Grassley said U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs against Canada and Mexico “have to go off,” as those countries continue to retaliate against U.S. products, including agricultural goods.
He added he plans to speak with the Trump administration to push for removal of the tariffs, which would follow several unsuccessful efforts by lawmakers to get the Section 232 measures lifted.
“I know that steel and aluminum’s a little bit different than just NAFTA, generally, but it’s been used as a tool to get NAFTA renegotiated,” Grassley said. “Well, that’s been accomplished, so what’s the purpose? I don’t understand.”
The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.