Lawmakers head north to talk USMCA


By Megan Cassella, POLITICO

With help from Doug Palmer, Adam Behsudi and Ryan McCrimmon



Four members of the House Ways and Means Committee are in Ottawa this morning to meet with Trudeau and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who led Canada’s negotiating team during USMCA talks. The still-pending trade agreement will be the focus of the meetings today, according to aides from both countries.


Trudeau and Freeland will look for an update from the lawmakers — Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Drew Ferguson (R-Ga.) and Neal — on how ratification is going and will want to talk about labor reform implementation in Mexico, a Freeland spokesperson said.


Mexico’s labor law overhaul has been a central focus for House Democrats working with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to make changes to the USMCA, and Neal said last week that he believes Trudeau and his deputies “are in full accord with us in terms of support for the enforcement mechanisms that we are insisting on.”


GOP patience wears thin: The trip comes as Republicans are steadily ramping up calls for action on the agreement. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday took to Twitter to pressure Democrats to move forward, blaming the delays squarely on what he called the party’s “three-year-old impeachment obsession.”


Updating the caucus: The USMCA was a central focus of a House Democratic caucus call on Tuesday evening. Members asked about issues including timing and labor, one person said. And the central message was that there has been progress on getting a deal done, POLITICO’s John Bresnahan reports.


FUTURE OF 232 BILL GETS MURKIER: Grassley told reporters Tuesday he no longer knows when he might introduce Section 232 legislation in his committee, as he is still working to come up with a bill a majority of his panel’s members can support.


Grassley later took to the Senate floor to air his concerns, saying a key reason why he and ranking member Ron Wyden have had trouble striking a compromise is because of pushback from stakeholders who are profiting from tariffs and from fellow lawmakers who are loath to upset Trump.


Background ...






MEAT SECTOR SEEING GREEN IN EXPORT OUTLOOK: The U.S. Meat Export Federation is upbeat amid a recent uptick in pork sales to China — and claims that there’s room for major meat export growth starting in 2020.


Pork exports to China have skyrocketed in recent months, even setting records in July and August as African swine fever wipes out Chinese hog herds and boosts the country’s demand for imported proteins. The group estimates that pork exports to China could hit 1.6 million tons per year under favorable conditions.


Eyes on Tokyo ...


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