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Dems take cautious approach to Trump trade deal

October 1, 2018

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer sounded a cautiously positive note Monday about the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal, saying President Trump “deserves praise” for trying to improve upon the old NAFTA.

Mr. Schumer, who voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement under President Clinton, said his final evaluation will depend on how strong the labor protections are, and whether the U.S. got a better deal on dairy from the Canadians.

“If a final agreement is signed by all three countries, I also look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to write ‘implementing legislation’ to ensure the deal actually achieves these goals,” said Mr. Schumer, who could be in a key deciding position next year when a deal would come up for a vote.

That could ease the fears of this White House, where Mr. Trump said earlier in the day he was not confident of approval of the trade deal, given the anti-Trump resistance that pervades congressional Democrats.

“In theory, there should be no trouble, but anything you submit to Congress is trouble,” Mr. Trump said, complaining of Democrats’ penchant to “delay, obstruct, resist.”

Mr. Trump plans to submit the deal, known by the acronym USMCA, later this year, but it likely won’t see final action until next year, after a new Congress is seated.

Should Democrats win control of either chamber of Congress, Mr. Trump’s legislative agenda could suffer.

The House has always been a bigger stumbling block for trade deals and that’s likely to be true this time around particularly if Democrats claim the majority in November’s elections.

Early reactions from Democrats were noncommittal.

“Any new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada ought to advantage American workers, farmers, and businesses; benefit consumers; and strengthen our relationships with our neighbors,” said Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the second-ranking Democrat in the House.

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