Sep 30, 2018

Don't hold your breath on NAFTA

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Today is NAFTA deadline day, and it's down to the wire. It's the date that a deal supposedly has to be done, with or without Canada. Something's getting sent to Congress, and it's either going to be a bilateral deal with Mexico or it's going to be a full-fledged renegotiated pact including Canada.

"I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."
— Douglas Adams, "The Salmon of Doubt"

The details: A deal is reportedly very close, but there's no indication that President Trump has any desire whatsoever to sign a deal with Canada. On the other hand, there's also no indication that there's any appetite in Congress for a bilateral deal with Mexico.

  • If a US-Mexico deal gets sent to Congress today, that's not the end of the line.
  • The deadline just allows the deal to be signed by outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, rather than by his populist successor, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
  • But US-Canada negotiations will continue, in the hope that the final differences between the two sides can be bridged.
  • Worth noting: The lead Canadian negotiator, Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, is expected to give up her speaking slot at the UN on Monday, where she's angling for a seat on the Security Council, due to (presumptively still ongoing) NAFTA talks.

The big question: What happens if a deal with Canada can't be done? Trump wants to cripple the Canadians and kick them out of NAFTA, but he doesn't have fast-track authority to take an action that drastic.

  • He'd need Congress, in other words, including representatives from northern states with deep, long-standing trade ties to Canada.

Answers on a postcard please: What's stronger, the supply chains connecting the U.S. and Canada or the apron strings connecting congressional Republicans to Trump?

Go deeper

Fed temporarily lifts Wells Fargo's growth restrictions

Photo: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve said Wednesday it will temporarily lift Wells Fargo’s growth restrictions, which were put in place following the bank’s customer abuse scandals.

Why it matters: The Fed’s only reason for lifting the cap is so Wells Fargo can dole out more loans to struggling small businesses as part of the government’s coronavirus aid package. Earlier this week, the bank said it could only lend a total of $10 billion, thanks to Fed restrictions that it can’t grow its assets beyond $1.95 trillion.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 1,450,343 — Total deaths: 83,568 — Total recoveries: 308,617Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 12 p.m. ET: 399,979 — Total deaths: 12,912 — Total recoveries: 22,539Map.
  3. Business updates: Roughly one-third of U.S. apartment renters didn't make April payments.
  4. Federal government latest: The U.S. has begun to see "glimmers of hope" despite its highest recorded number of deaths in 24 hours, Anthony Fauci said.
  5. Public health latest: Surgeon General Jerome Adams highlighted the disproportionate impact the illness is having on African-American communities.
  6. World latest: Indians look to Taiwan amid China's coronavirus missteps
  7. 🚌 Public transit: Systems across the country are experiencing ridership collapse, squeezed funding streams and slow recovery from the pandemic.
  8. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Bernie Sanders suspends presidential campaign

Photo: ANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders announced Wednesday that he is suspending his presidential campaign.

The big picture: It's an end to the campaign of the leading progressive in the race — and the candidate who seemed to be the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination just a few months ago. It also makes Biden the presumptive Democratic nominee four months before the party's convention in Milwaukee.