House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she doubts Congress has enough time left to pass the USMCA this year, but Democrats and the Trump administration will continue talks next week to work out a compromise on remaining issues.
U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met with Pelosi and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) midday to discuss the last sticking points of the deal. Democrats want President Donald Trump’s trade chief to deliver on stronger enforcement mechanisms in the USMCA before a House vote is held. But lawmakers emerged without any announcement.
The House has only eight official session days left in the 2019 calendar year, although lawmakers are expected to stay on an extra week in December to resolve budget issues and avert a government shutdown.
Despite the short time window, Neal is still hopeful that a deal could be struck soon that would allow Congress to pass the pact this year. He said he would talk with Lighthizer again before Thanksgiving, and even joked he would be spending the holiday with the trade chief.
“We’re going to stay right at this through the next week, and we’re going to have a couple counterproposals,” Neal said. “With all seriousness, we do think we’re down to two-and-a-half, maybe three issues.”