House committee approves USMCA trade deal, setting up vote on Thursday

Key Points
  • The House Ways and Means Committee send the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement to the full House. 
  • The chamber is expected to pass the NAFTA replacement on Thursday. 
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., speak about the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement on Capitol Hill on Dec. 10, 2019.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images

A House committee cleared a new North American trade deal on Tuesday, setting up approval in the full chamber this week.

The House Ways and Means Committee favorably reported the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a replacement for NAFTA negotiated by the Trump administration and tweaked by House Democrats. The panel sent the three-nation pact to the full House in a bipartisan voice vote.

Earlier Tuesday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the House plans to consider the trade deal on Thursday. The chamber is expected to approve it with bipartisan support.

President Donald Trump considers replacing NAFTA, the 1994 trade deal he has criticized as a job killer, one of his top priorities ahead of his 2020 reelection bid. The Democratic-held House is set to sign off on the deal only a day after it impeaches Trump.

Ed Mills: USMCA gives American businesses more economic certainty
Ed Mills: USMCA gives American businesses more economic certainty

The Senate plans to ratify USMCA next year, potentially after it holds a January trial on whether to remove Trump from office.

The trade deal would boost U.S. access to Canadian dairy markets. Restrictions for rules of origin for auto parts would become tighter, while nearly half of auto parts would have to be made by people making at least $16 an hour. The agreement would also update digital trade and intellectual property provisions.

During more than a year of talks with the Trump administration, House Democrats fought for tougher labor enforcement tools to deter companies from moving jobs out of the U.S. The accord includes pieces such as U.S. attaches who help to monitor implementation of standards designed to boost wages in Mexico.

Not all House Democrats back the agreement. During the committee markup, Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., said he opposed it. 

"Everyone here wants a good deal for our country. That being said, I want to register that I'm at best uneasy with how this process has concluded," he said.  

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