Trump Is About To Play A Dangerous Game Of Chicken With Democrats To Try To Ram Through His Trade Deal With Mexico And Canada

Facing the possibility of an arduous and difficult approval process for a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, President Donald Trump hinted he would attempt to force Congress' hand.

Trump on Saturday threatened to begin the formal process to pull the US out of the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a move that would be designed to give Congress little option but to approve the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

"I'll be terminating it within a relatively short period of time. We get rid of NAFTA. It's been a disaster for the United States. It's caused us tremendous amounts of unemployment and loss and company loss and everything else," Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One. "That'll be terminated. And so Congress will have a choice of the USMCA or pre-NAFTA, which worked very well."

Trump formally signed the USMCA alongside Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the G20 summit on Friday. In the wake of ceremonial signing, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed some misgivings about the USMCA.

"I think President Trump's goal here was to light a fire under Congress," Larry Kudlow, Trump's chief economic adviser, told reporters on Monday.

Congressional pushback

Under the Trade Promotion Authority that Trump is using to advance the USMCA, only a majority of each chamber needs to vote for the deal for it to become law. But Democrats, especially those in the incoming House majority, have the chance to influence the deal through so-called implementation legislation that changes US law to abide by the trade deal's rules.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly said that the implementation legislation must include language that ensures some aspects of the agreement are stringently enforced.

"Whatever they're calling it now, it has some kind of gobbledygook name. The trade agreement formerly known as Prince — no, I mean, formerly known as NAFTA , is a work in progress," Pelosi said at a press conference on Friday. "We are admiring of the Trade Representative and the attempts he has made to make sure that we are aware of what is in it. But what isn't in it yet is enough enforcement reassurances regarding provisions that relate to workers and to the environment."

Read more: Trump just sealed the landmark trade deal with Mexico and Canada, but there's still a long road toward victory»

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