GOP senators warn Trump trade deal will go into 2020 if deal not reached this week

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Monday warned that the ratification of President Trump‘s trade deal with Canada and Mexico is unlikely to be reached this year unless the White House and Democrats reach a deal this week.

Grassley, who oversees the Senate Finance Committee, said he believed an agreement was “close” and urged House Democrats to “act quickly and be reasonable.”  

“The end of this year’s legislative session is rapidly approaching, as we all know. If a deal cannot be reached by the end of this week, I do not see how the USMCA can be ratified in the year we’re in,” Grassley said from the Senate floor.  

He added that the window for passing the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement, known as USMCA, is “extremely tight.” 

Cornyn, an adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said that he doesn’t believe Trump’s trade deal will pass Congress this year.

“I can’t imagine at this point that the USMCA gets done this year … unless Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] pulls a rabbit out of the hat, which she is capable of doing, but it looks like we’re just running out of time,” Cornyn said.

Republicans and the White House want to get the trade deal ratified through Congress by the end of the year.

Lawmakers are scheduled to leave town by Dec. 13 but are likely to stay until Dec. 20 — giving negotiators roughly 15 days in session. Lawmakers have a full agenda for December, including the impeachment inquiry and funding the government. 

Supporters worry that if the trade agreement is kicked into 2020 it will get wrapped up in presidential politics. Once the implementation legislation is introduced, the House has to vote on it within 60 session days, though lawmakers think they could move faster if there’s a bipartisan deal.

Pelosi said over the Thanksgiving recess that they were “within range” of an agreement.

“Now, we need to see our progress in writing from the Trade Representative for final review,” Pelosi said in a statement.

But she’s also opened the door to the negotiations dragging into 2020, throwing into question if there’s enough time to ratify the deal on Capitol Hill this year. 

“I’m not even sure if we came to an agreement today that it would be enough time to finish,” she said late last month.

Updated at 4:03 p.m.

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