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Trump says he will cancel NAFTA, forcing Congress to approve new trade deal

If Trump follows through, Congress will have the choice of the USMCA or no trade deal at all

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto (from left), U.S. President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sign a new free trade agreement Friday at the G-20 leaders' summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Trump has said that he will pull out of NAFTA, potentially forcing Congress to pass the USMCA. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump has said that he intends to end the North American Free Trade Agreement in six months, potentially forcing Congress to pass his new trade deal or risk having no trade deal in place. All trade deals need to be approved by Congress before they can take effect.

What are the details?

“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," Trump said as he left the G-20 summit. “Congress will have a choice of the USMCA or pre-NAFTA, which worked very well."

There's disagreement among experts over whether Trump has the authority to pull out of a trade deal like NAFTA without congressional approval. While Congress does need to approve the implementation of a trade deal, some experts say that the Trade Act of 1974 gives to president authority to pull out of such deals on his own.

Trump, joined by Canadian Prime Minister Justine Trudeau and outgoing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement during a ceremony before the start of this year's G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The original NAFTA deal was signed in 1992 by former President George H.W. Bush. It passed Congress the following year, and took effect in 1994. Trump has repeatedly criticized NAFTA, calling it "the worst trade deal in history."

What has Congress said about this?

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who is presumed to be the next speaker of the House of Representatives, indicated Friday that House Democrats weren't ready to give their support to this deal yet.

“What isn't in it yet is enough enforcement reassurances regarding workers, provisions that relate to workers and to the environment," she said.

On Sunday, Henry Connelly, a spokesman for Pelosi, told the New York Times that it was “disappointing but not surprising" that Trump was trying to force Congress to approve the new deal. Since Democrats now control the House of Representatives, their support will be crucial for the USMCA to get Congressional approval.

Not even all Republicans in Congress are on board just yet. Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) has said that he thinks the new deal is a step back from NAFTA, and that before he could support it, it would need to get a "few tweaks that move it in the direction of a more pro-trade agreement."

One last thing…
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