Politics

Here Is What Senators Are Saying About The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement’s Future

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Henry Rodgers Capitol Hill Reporter
  • The Daily Caller spoke with 15 senators to ask what their stance was on the future of the USMCA. 
  • The responses indicate that Republicans are pushing to move forward with the new trade agreement, while Democrats are divided on it. 
  • Several Democratic senators split with others in their party, saying they will not yet commit to voting for the USMCA, even if it is passed by the House.

Senators on both sides of the aisle seem eager to vote on the future of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), but they do not have a timeline as to when it could be passed in the House as Democrats remain focused on impeaching President Donald Trump.

The Daily Caller spoke with over 15 senators about the USMCA who all shared their views on the future of the agreement. The USMCA, a change from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), is a bipartisan trade agreement that some think could benefit America’s farmers, ranchers, businesses, and workers. Once approved by Congress, the USMCA is supposed to help longstanding trade problems by giving American businesses more freedom to sell their goods and services throughout North America.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy met with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in September to discuss the future of the USMCA and told the Daily Caller that “Robert Lighthizer sounded upbeat about the future of the USMCA, and for good reason: he and the White House worked tirelessly to strike a trade deal with Mexico and Canada that would benefit all Americans, from manufacturers in Michigan to wine producers in California.”

McCarthy also said that Mexico has already ratified the USMCA and that Canada is also ready to move forward. McCarthy has since been calling on Congress to act, adding that he is confident House Republicans would vote to pass the legislation if brought to the floor. He also said that passing the USMCA would add nearly 180,000 jobs and increase the country’s GDP by $68.2 billion.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) holds his weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol June 13, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Republican senators have been continuing to advocate that the House pass the USMCA so that the Senate can vote on it. Every Republican senator the Daily Caller spoke with said the USMCA needs to be passed, with many mentioning Democrats’ continued focus on impeachment instead of actually passing legislation.

“The Democrats seem solely focused on impeachment. I think it’s a big mistake for the country not to pass it because it’s a much better deal for me than the NAFTA and I think it would be a political payback by the voters if they can’t do anything other than impeach the president,” Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told the Daily Caller.

“Hopefully, eventually, the Democrats will start deciding that they came here to actually do something. If you look at it, we’re not reducing health care costs, we’re not securing the border, it’s all because they’re just complete obstructionists,” Republican Florida Sen. Rick Scott said to the Daily Caller.

Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins said to the Daily Caller that it is on Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to bring the USMCA to the floor for a vote in order for it to move forward, adding that she hopes it happens soon.

“Well, I do not think it would take a very long time to do the USMCA if the speaker is willing to bring it to the Senate floor. And so my hope is that she will make that happen,” Collins told The Caller.

Republican Texas Sen. Ted Cruz echoed Collins’ comments when asked by the Caller, saying, “Nancy Pelosi continues to refuse to have a vote on it. We need to take it up and pass the USMCA. But it is Democratic leadership in the House that is standing in the way of jobs, jobs for farmers, jobs for ranchers, small businesses, manufacturers across the country.”

Sen.Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on April 10, 2019 in Washington, DC. The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee is questioning whether large tech companies are biased towards conservatives. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images)

“The indications we have from the Speaker is that she intends to bring it up before the first of the year and we think that would be a nice accomplishment for the House of Representatives. I’m guessing they’d like to actually have some legislation in the bank,” Republican Mississippi Sen. Rocker Wicker told the Daily Caller.

Republican North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis told the Caller that Pelosi knows she has enough votes to pass the USMCA right now, but that Democrats are too focused on impeachment to bring it to the floor for a vote.

“Well, I think Speaker Pelosi knows that she has the votes, bipartisan votes to pass it. She owes it to the American people and our major economic growth to stay after it. But you’re right. On the one hand, they say that they’re doing other work in the House. We passed a bill on robocalls, increasing penalties for predatory robocalls with more than 90 votes. That’s not even moving. So hopefully she’ll get back to work and walk and chew gum over there,” Tillis said.

Republican Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner told the Caller that the USMCA is very important to those back in his home state and that having a vote on the USMCA is extremely important.

“I certainly hope so. It’s what the people of Colorado are talking about, the need to get it passed and concerned that the House is ignoring the important legislation. Well let’s hope that they can process the USMCA, it would be very important to have that vote,” Gardner said.

Republican Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy had a strong message about Pelosi not taking the USMCA up for a vote in the House, saying he does not think she has plans to vote on it and that she does not want to give Trump a win before the next elections.

“I don’t think Speaker Pelosi has any intention whatsoever to move the USMCA. We’ve been hearing for a year that she’s really close, she’s really close. I think she has made a crass, calculated political decision that she is not going to give the president a victory. I regret that. She needs to stop thinking about the next election and think a little bit about the next generation. I think part of her motivation is that she hopes the president will get mad and cancel NAFTA. I do not believe the president will do that. He’s been extraordinarily patient, but she has no excuse. No excuse,” Kennedy said.

The Louisiana Republican also added he is doubtful the House will pass the legislation anytime soon.

“The message she is sending is that the United States House of Representatives, under her leadership, is either A, born tired, raised lazy and can’t take care of its business. Or B, they’re just crass, venal politicians. So put me down as doubtful,” Kennedy continued.

Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing regarding internet safety for children on Capitol Hill on Tuesday July 9, 2019. (Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Democrats were all over the place when asked by the Daily Caller about the USMCA, with many saying they hope it passes through the House, others saying they are still reviewing it, and even one senator asking what the USMCA is.

Democratic Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told the Daily Caller that the legislation needs some changes, but that if Pelosi is able to work them in, he thinks that most Democrats in the Senate will vote in favor of the new trade agreement.

“If Speaker Pelosi is able to negotiate changes that bring the bill through the House, that puts it in a very good position to get Democratic support in the Senate. Having a majority the way she does and having the values that her caucus represents and having this meet with her approval is a good combination of factors,” Whitehouse said.

“I was talking to some folks just in the last couple days. I think that they are working really hard to try to figure out solutions or not. They’re working with Lighthizer and others, to try to figure out some areas of agreement where they can get this thing done. I still think Democrats are focused on trying to do some things,” Democratic Alabama Sen. Doug Jones told the Caller. When asked if he thinks it will advance to the Senate, Jones responded by saying “I hope so. We think we need to get that done.”

Democratic Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin had a very similar message, saying he hopes the House can work out an agreement to bring it to the floor for a vote so that it can advance to the Senate.

“I hope it does. I hope they work out that agreement. And it’s really in the hands of the USTR and the Speaker. I hope that they can resolve the issues. I thought the request by Democratic leadership was reasonable and I would hope in talking with Ambassador Lighthizer, I think he is very competent to work this out. So I hope we can,” Cardin said.

“I’m told that things are moving and that it could come up in the House,” Democratic Washington Sen. Patty Murray told The Caller.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a Democrat from Rhode Island, speaks during a news conference on For The People Act at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 27, 2019. (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Daily Caller asked Democratic Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen about the USMCA and if he hopes to see it move forward quickly since House Democrats are very focused on the impeachment process.

“Let me stop you there. That’s not true. And you know it. You know, that’s not all they’re focused on. You know, the House has passed a mountain of legislation. It’s sitting here in the Senate, including universal background checks for guns, including an increase in the minimum wage, including campaign finance reform. So the premise of your statement is wrong,” Van Hollen said to the Caller. When asked if he would support the USMCA if it were to come to the Senate, Van Hollen did not respond.

Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner told the Daily Caller that he does not know if he would vote for the legislation if it passed the House, saying he is unsure about labor.

“I hear comments from the speaker that it’s getting close. But, I don’t have any further knowledge than that. And I’m still unsure where labor is going to be,” Warner said. When asked if he would support the legislation if it advances to the Senate, Warner responded by saying “I’m still reviewing it at this point.”

“What’s USMCA?,” Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said to the Daily Caller when asked about her stance on it. After being told it is basically like the new NAFTA, Feinstein responded by saying “I think it should pass. I voted against it when I first came here. And yet I, you know, represent the state that is a huge trading state, is the largest trading market, the Pacific Ocean, in the world. And it’s become so important to everybody’s quality of life that I really believe that the higher numbers should take precedence.”

In June, The Republican National Committee (RNC) launched a six-figure advertisement campaign targeted at 20 congressional Democrats across the country, asking constituents to push Congress to approve the USMCA(RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: RNC Drops 6 Figures On Ad Buy For USMCA)

House Democrats will decide the future of one of President Donald Trump’s top issues as they continue the impeachment process.