20 Sep 2019
Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers have revealed that talks with the Trump administration regarding a U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement are advancing.
It has been revealed that the House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, and the ranking Republican on the committee, Kevin Brady of Texas, both individually told reporters that they were working together to exchange information.
Neal said: "We're making substantial progress. We believe it might take a couple of more exchanges (with the White House), but the thinking is certainly being refined. And we think we're making headway."
According to U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Congress would likely pass the agreement this year – while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats were working to ratify it but enforcement was still a concern.
The Trump administration is eager to have the trade deal approved quickly, but House Democrats are requesting that greater measures are taken to implement labour and environmental standards, as well as ensuring that higher drug prices do not become a consequence of the deal.
According to Brady, these concerns have been addressed by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, but "there is still more work to do."
As Reuters reports, Brady said that all eight former Secretaries of Agriculture have written to congressional leaders to endorse the trade deal.
Additionally, U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters he perceived Lighthizer as an “honest broker” and had taken useful and positive measures, and U.S. leaders are optimistic about having the agreement approved.