There are positive signs that enough congressional Democrats will vote for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) for the deal to secure U.S. approval, Greenspoon Marder attorney Jessica Wasserman said Thursday.
Some progressive Democrats have shown that they want to work with the White House in advancing USMCA implementation, and Republicans have shown a willingness to work with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Wasserman said during the American Association of Exporters and Importers (AAEI) 98th Annual Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C.
As for Pelosi, there are signs that she is taking the issue seriously, as she has established working groups to address Democrats’ USMCA concerns prior to direct congressional consideration of the agreement, Wasserman said.
“I think that you will hear a lot of rumbling from the left side of the Democratic caucus, but then they will vote for it,” she said.
“I think this is going to go down to the wire,” he said during the AAEI conference. “I think, ultimately, it’s a loss for the Democrats if this doesn’t go through because they’re going to look obstructionist. But they want to make sure that they get their fingerprint on it by having these [working groups]. So, I think, ultimately, it will pass.”
Tuttle noted that the House Ways and Means Committee continues to hold hearings on USMCA, and Democrats could want to make some changes to the pact, which would delay a vote until after the August congressional recess.
Campaigns for the 2020 presidential election will pick up steam in the fall, which will raise questions about whether any lawmakers will want to directly consider the agreement at the end of the year, Tuttle said.
USMCA “will likely pass at some point in time. We don’t exactly know when. It’s going to have this basic framework, so please pay attention to this,” Tuttle said. “Granted, you’re going to have to run dual tracks. You’re going to have to stay current with your existing NAFTA, and you’re going to have to start looking at the differences” between NAFTA and USMCA.
“It’s going to look a lot more like other free trade agreements in that respect than it has been before, where you can just simply say, ‘Look, I have a NAFTA statement; I have a NAFTA certificate. Customs, you’ve got to go to the foreign supplier to verify this,’” he said. “Now, if you self-certify, customs is going to expect that you have the documents that support your agreement.”
USMCA will be a template for future trade agreements and a starting point for future negotiations, as much of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiation established precedent for USMCA, Wasserman said. USMCA includes 80% of underlying TPP provisions, she noted.