By William Mauldin and Natalie Andrews
WASHINGTON -- President Trump on Monday reported significant progress on reaching a deal with House Democrats and Mexican officials on a revised version of a new North American trade pact.
"I'm hearing a lot of strides have been made over the last 24 hours, with unions and others," Mr. Trump told reporters. "And I hope they put it up for a vote, and if they put it up for a vote, it's going to pass."
Later Monday, a Trump administration official said that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to the president, were expected to travel to Mexico Tuesday to meet with officials on revisions to the pact originally signed last year.
The Trump administration is trying to bridge the gap with House Democrats and Mexico City on amendments to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Democrats, backed by unions, want greater ability to enforce USMCA's new labor rules aimed at Mexico.
The AFL-CIO hosted a conference call Monday afternoon with leaders of its constituent unions to discuss whether to accept the current progress at the negotiating table or potentially ask Democrats and U.S. officials to seek more concessions from Mexico, according to people familiar with the call.
Representatives for the AFL-CIO didn't respond to requests for comment.
Mr. Trump discussed the trade deal by phone Monday with Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, a White House official said.
House Democratic leadership is reviewing a response from Mr. Lighthizer on what Mexico would agree to, but hasn't decided yet whether to support it, said a senior Democratic aide. Progressive Democrats would be unlikely to support the emerging deal if labor unions opposed it.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) spoke with Mr. Lighthizer Monday and said he is hopeful there will be a deal announced soon, a spokesman said.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Monday that the latest proposal for modifying USMCA was presented to the Mexican senators and informally approved.
"We have done our part, and we consider that it's a good agreement for our countries, very appropriate for the people of the U.S., of Canada and of Mexico," said Mr. López Obrador, urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) to move ahead with ratification. "I think now is the right moment."
The prospect of passing USMCA, a priority for Mr. Trump, around the same time as the House is considering impeachment is creating some logistical hurdles. On the political side, however, it allows some House Democrats facing tough races next year to show constituents that they can hold Mr. Trump to account and nearly simultaneously move forward on shared policy priorities.
The Senate is likely to take up the trade agreement in January, a GOP aide said. Even though the chamber is expected to be in the midst of Mr. Trump's impeachment trial, the Senate could debate and vote on the trade agreement in the morning, before the trial starts in the afternoon. The deal is expected to pass the Senate.
The Trump administration and House Democrats didn't elaborate on the differences between the previous version of USMCA that was signed in 2018 and the current version that may be headed for congressional consideration.
Andrew Restuccia, Anthony Harrup and Alex Leary contributed to this article.
Write to William Mauldin at firstname.lastname@example.org and Natalie Andrews at Natalie.Andrews@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 09, 2019 16:54 ET (21:54 GMT)
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