Democrats hope to approve a replacement of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but still have concerns about enforcing the deal, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday.
"But we hope that we're on a path to yes. The most important issue outstanding is enforceability," she said in an interview with CNBC's Jim Cramer.
The White House has pushed for swift ratification of the trade agreement struck last year between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Pelosi and top negotiators in the Democratic-held House have repeatedly said they want to see better mechanisms to enforce labor and environmental standards, and resolve fears that the deal could lead to higher drug prices for U.S. consumers.
President Donald Trump, who campaigned in 2016 on overhauling U.S. trade relationships, sees passing the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement as one of his top economic and political priorities. Still, the California Democrat said she does not worry that ratifying the deal would hand Trump a political victory ahead of the 2020 election.
"The idea that we would give a victory to the president is irrelevant. It's a victory for the American people," she told the "Mad Money" host.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Pelosi's remarks.
Congress returned to Washington last week from its more than month-long recess. Democratic negotiators expect the pace of talks with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to pick up this month as they look to make changes to USMCA.
The Trump administration has made ratifying the deal a priority in the final months of the year. Pelosi said Tuesday that "there is nothing to bring to the floor yet" in terms of concrete legislation to ratify the deal.
Out of the three countries' legislatures, only Mexico's has approved the agreement.
Republicans, and some Democrats representing areas reliant on trade with Canada and Mexico, have urged Democratic leaders to move forward more quickly with the deal. In a CNBC interview earlier Tuesday, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, contended the deal "does have enforceable" labor and environmental standards.
Key U.S. labor groups have worried the deal will not do enough to protect American workers and prevent outsourcing. Democratic lawmakers and Trump alike have argued NAFTA sapped American manufacturing jobs after it took effect in 1994.
Many business organizations and the agriculture industry have agitated for USMCA's passage. They have looked for stability in their Canadian and Mexican markets as the Trump administration's escalating trade war with China helps to fuel concerns about slowing global economic growth.
The U.S. exported about $300 billion in goods to Canada last year, making its northern neighbor its largest export market. It sent about $265 billion in products to Mexico, its second-largest export market.
Cramer's full interview with Pelosi will air at 6 p.m. ET on "Mad Money."