Over five months after agreeing to an updated trade agreement with Mexico and Canada, President Donald Trump has yet to submit the deal to Congress for a vote, as the White House faces more calls from members of his own party to back off of steel and aluminum tariffs levied on those two U.S. trading partners before any vote is taken in the House and Senate on the trade pact.
"These tariffs - and the retaliations - are having a negative impact on Americans," said Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), in a speech on the floor of the Senate on Monday, publicly putting the White House on notice that the President could have problems with members of both parties in a vote on the trade deal.
"The agreement for Mexico, Canada, and the United States is supposed to be a free trade agreement," Grassley said. "But we don't have a free trade agreement with these tariffs in place."
Both Canada and Mexico have slapped retaliatory tariffs on American agriculture products in response to the Section 232 tariffs instituted by President Trump - and those measures on pork, apples, cranberries, potatoes and more - have hit farmers in Iowa and other states.
#Mexico Applies #Tariffs in Retaliation to Sect 232 https://t.co/orYJX2K9I6 @USDAForeignAg In response to US Sect 232 tariffs on steel, aluminum Mexico annc'd tariffs on $3.6B worth of US ag products; Also, a 350,000 MT duty free quota for fresh pork for non-US product was opened pic.twitter.com/u67NO5QCOT— Farm Policy (@FarmPolicy) June 11, 2018
US Ag exports to Mexico have fallen by $178M since Mexico imposed retaliatory tariffs on the US's 232 on aluminum and steel. Farmers are the most affected by Trump's trade war. Canada has taken most of the market lost by US exports to Mexico. pic.twitter.com/rPAoKvnmai— Jorge Guajardo (@jorge_guajardo) March 16, 2019
For example, last week the American Line Pipe Producers Association urged the Trump Administration to keep the tariffs in place in order to stop 'unfair trade practices' by the two countries.
But the United Steelworkers union - like Sen. Grassley - wants the steel and aluminum tariffs eliminated, to help lay the groundwork for final action on the USMCA trade agreement.
And other Republicans in Congress, like Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), have expressed their own reservations about the steel and aluminum tariffs on Mexico and Canada.
Meanwhile, Democrats have their own concerns about the trade agreement - one reason the deal's future remains cloudy in the Congress.
"The overarching issue is enforcement," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, as Democrats worry about workers' rights, environmental issues, prescription drug pricing, and more.
"I think that it should get approved pretty quickly by Congress, because it's a great deal. It's a really great deal," the President told Fox Business in an interview on March 22.
But, at this point, no vote has been scheduled on the USMCA deal - as the Trump White House still has not officially submitted the agreement to the Congress for approval.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.