The House of Representatives is poised to officially impeach President Donald Trump this week while also taking up a monumental trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement just days after passing a prescription drug bill. The potential U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement, dubbed NAFTA 2.0, was signed by all three countries on Nov. 30, 2018 and has been stalled in the House ever since, despite the Trump trade agreement being far more favorable to Democrats than NAFTA was.
The newly negotiated trade pact, for example, offers enhanced protections for American labor and raises environmental standards. In April, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer assured that the agreement “includes the strongest, most advanced, and most comprehensive labor obligations of any U.S. trade agreement.” The trade deal also beefs up environmental regulations on air quality and marine environments in the text of the agreement, making them fully enforceable along with its new labor rules.
After Pelosi finally endorsed the full agreement, Lightizer has clashed with some Republicans over the deal and acknowledged major concessions to Democrats to get the agreement passed through a split Congress. “We had an election and the Democrats won the House,” Lightizer told CBS.
But the latest round of negotiations with Democrats offered few major changes that couldn’t have been agreed upon months ago after the deal was initially signed by all three nations. So why did Pelosi wait until now to finally cut a deal with the White House and schedule a vote this week? To rebuff allegations of blind partisanship lodged by Republicans branding the Democrats as obstructionist legislators focused on nothing else but reversing the results of the 2016 election through impeachment.
Pelosi’s procrastination, however, created a high level of unnecessary uncertainty about the fate of the agreement.
Last week, Democrats also passed major legislation putting price controls on prescription drugs, a broad goal that could have drawn Republican support. Trump even said kind words about the bill when it was introduced in September while maintaining his support for a bipartisan bill introduced by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.
After Democrats swarmed around impeachment, however, the same internal forces pushing for impeachment pulled the House bill further to the left than acceptable for Republicans. The bill was moved out of committee strictly along partisan lines, and when the measure finally came to the House floor for a vote, only two Republicans voted in favor. The bill has been labeled by many, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as “dead on arrival” in the Senate.
Pelosi’s flurry of legislation in recent days is meant to counter Republican charges of partisanship in pursuing the Democrats’ impeachment crusade. Make no mistake, however, impeachment has been the top item on the Democratic agenda ever since Trump’s election, to delegitimize Trump’s triumphant victory.
Just minutes after Trump took the oath of office, the Washington Post ran the headline, “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.” Following the election, Democrats have endorsed the demolition of the constitutionally established Electoral College.
They’ve claimed Russia successfully hacked American democracy. They’ve peddled lies from the discredited Steele dossier alleging that Trump was a Russian agent. And they’ve religiously pushed the grand Russian collusion conspiracy theory that led to a two-year investigation ultimately exonerating the president, revealing the Democratic claims to be nothing but made-up charges to reverse what happened in 2016.
Since the epic failure of the Russia hoax, Democrats have latched onto Ukraine, alleging in the weakest impeachment attempt in American history that Trump conspired with the Ukrainian president to investigate political opponents at home. Now Democrats will vote on what will be their signature accomplishment in the House, which is all but certain to be a purely partisan vote. The only bipartisanship to be seen will be on the side opposing Trump’s impeachment.