The US House of Representatives has given the green light to a trade deal between the US, Canada and Mexico that would replace NAFTA, known as the USMCA, passing the bill on to the Senate for another vote.
The sweeping trade deal was passed in the House on Thursday 385-41 and is set for a Senate vote sometime after the new year. If signed into law, the deal would establish new rules for commerce between the three countries, supplanting the longstanding North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.
Effectively an update to the prior three-way agreement, which came into force in 1994, the USMCA looks to slash tariffs, alter labor and intellectual property rules and cut down barriers to trade between the three neighbors, built with a 16-year sunset clause which sets an expiration date for the deal.
The move was seen by some as a victory for the president – who ran on promises to rework the NAFTA deal during the 2016 presidential race – and comes on the heels of a contentious impeachment vote in the House on Wednesday night, which advanced two articles of impeachment to the Senate for a final trial. However, House Democrats have delayed passing the articles to the upper chamber, where Republicans hold a majority, insisting they get a “fair” hearing.
If President Trump “wants to take credit for [the deal], so be it,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California), who has spearheaded the Democrat-led impeachment effort.
“This isn’t about him,” she said. “It’s about American workers.”
The agreement took nearly 14 months of negotiations between House Democrats and President Trump’s trade representative before it could be voted on for approval, a fact for which some Republicans have slammed lawmakers across the aisle, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) remarking before the vote: “I’m glad today is here, but the delay has hurt us.”
Commentary on Thursday’s vote was varied, with some camps hailing the outcome as a triumph for the President, while others saw it as proof that Democrats could get things done even while preoccupied with impeachment.