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November 21, 2019 12:45 PM, EST

Pelosi, White House Seek USMCA Deal at Crucial Meeting

Nancy PelosiHouse Speaker Nancy Pelosi by Kholood Eid/Bloomberg

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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is meeting Nov. 21 with President Donald Trump’s trade representative Robert Lighthizer, but she said even if they reach a deal on the stalled U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement, there might not be time to vote this year.

“I’m eager to get this done,” Pelosi told reporters ahead of the meeting, while saying she won’t agree to a superficial deal without strengthened enforcement provision that would amount to “NAFTA with sugar on top.”

Robert Lighthizer

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer by Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press

Pelosi said that even if the administration agrees to changes sought by Democrats, the House may not have enough time to write and vote on the legislation before the end of December.

Any verbal agreement would still need to be drafted into legislation, evaluated for its budget impact and considered in committee, she said. Changes in the text of the agreement would also need to be agreed to by Mexico and Canada.

“We certainly have to make progress today,” she said.

Republicans and the business community have increased pressure on Pelosi as they grow more concerned that pushing the vote into an election year will make it less likely to happen.

“She’s always close to allowing a vote. Her conference is always almost there,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said of Pelosi on the Senate floor Nov. 20. “But we’ve been almost there for months and months with no outcome in sight. Lots of talk; zero results.”

Pelosi’s spokesman Henry Connelly shot back on Twitter that Democrats were trying to make the deal enforceable in order to improve conditions for U.S. workers.

“Senator McConnell would prefer to lock workers into a weak trade deal that lets big corporations keep outsourcing American jobs,” he tweeted.

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