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President Donald Trump on Tuesday made an already difficult task even more challenging for lawmakers by calling on Congress to ratify his Mexico-Canada trade deal before passing any bipartisan infrastructure bill.
The demand, which Trump laid out in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) ahead of their meeting on infrastructure scheduled for Wednesday, effectively decreases the already slim odds that a package overhauling the nation’s crumbling roads, bridges and waterways ― an issue Trump vowed to tackle during the 2016 presidential election ― will make it to the president’s desk this Congress.
Tying infrastructure to trade, an already contentious issue, is likely to further complicate matters for everyone. Although both Democrats and the Trump administration have claimed they’re making progress on reaching a deal regarding the agreement, known as USMCA, the two sides are said to still be far apart.
Pelosi, for example, wants the Trump administration to reopen negotiations with Mexico and Canada to toughen enforcement and language on labor and environmental protections. Trump officials, meanwhile, are demanding the House take up the agreement as it stands after 13 months of negotiations with Mexico and Canada.
Pelosi and Schumer responded Tuesday with a statement that did not address the president’s demand that they tackle the trade deal before turning to infrastructure.
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