Vice President Mike Pence made his latest push for the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA) Tuesday at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative D.C.-based think tank.
A top legislative priority for the White House, the agreement was signed by all three countries on Nov. 30 of last year and has been stalled in Congress as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has yet to put the agreement on the calendar for a vote.
“It’s time for Congress to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” Pence asserted to a room full of policy experts, ambassadors, and congressmen.
Pence touted the agreement’s benefits for the American economy, pointing to a study from the U.S. International Trade Commission published earlier this year forecasting the agreement to pump up U.S. gross domestic product by nearly $70 billion and add 176,000 jobs for Americans.
The vice president said the Trump administration has “ended the era of economic surrender” and pointed to the president’s agenda that Pence claims has put American workers first such as withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Pence’s visit to the Heritage Foundation this week is the latest stop on the vice president’s nationwide tour to pressure Democratic lawmakers to take up the agreement in the House for a vote. Pence has recently visited New Mexico, Minnesota, and Utah to apply pressure to freshman Democrats to pass the trade deal.
“We recognize that for Speaker Pelosi to bring this to the floor, it has to be in the interest of her members and that is why the vice president is making the case that this is beneficial to the residents of many Democratic districts,” Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, told Real Clear Politics.
Pelosi and House Democrats have voiced concern about the labor, environmental, and pharmaceutical standards in the trade deal.
While already ratified in Mexico, the USMCA agreement, which is essentially the replacement for the North-American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), has stalled in Washington D.C. and Ottawa. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has reportedly been telling people that Pelosi promised a vote on the agreement by October, although Pelosi has rejected those reports. On Tuesday, however, Pelosi told CNBC that she was optimistic about being on “a path to yes.”
Pence said Tuesday that he believes an agreement with Congress will be reached by the end of the year.
“It’s more than just a good deal between our three countries,” Pence said.