Dec 10, 2019

Pelosi loses push to strip tech liability shield from USMCA

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi discusses the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement at a Dec. 10 news conference on Capitol Hill. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

A Tuesday compromise to finalize the new North American trade agreement includes provisions extending the U.S.'s liability shield for online platforms to Mexico and Canada, despite House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's objections.

Driving the news: Pelosi said her "one disappointment" in the deal House Democrats and the White House reached Tuesday on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is the inclusion of language similar to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That measure protects tech companies against lawsuits over user-posted material.

The big picture: Getting Section 230-style language into trade agreements is a big win for the tech industry. It extends the law's protections into other countries, and it makes it harder for U.S. lawmakers to tinker with tech's liability shield. Threats to carve into it have come from both Republicans, who claim tech companies are biased against conservatives, and Democrats, who say platforms aren't doing enough to fight misinformation and hate speech.

What they're saying: Pelosi, who publicly voiced concerns about including the provision last week, said Tuesday she only became aware of it after she promised the Trump administration she wouldn't let additional issues enter into their talks to finalize USMCA.

  • "Unfortunately, I got it after I made the pledge of not moving any goalposts," Pelosi said.

Tech industry groups including the Internet Association and BSA | The Software Alliance praised the digital trade rules in the agreement.

  • "The strong digital provisions in the agreement will benefit businesses of all sizes in every state by helping them reach new markets and customers in Mexico and Canada," IA President Michael Beckerman said in a statement.

Go deeper

House Democrats say they'll back USMCA

Richard Neal and Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) announced Tuesday that House Democrats plan to back the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

Why it matters: Completing the trade deal, designed to replace NAFTA, is one of President Trump's biggest policy goals for 2019. Democrats' decision to back it — despite unveiling articles of impeachment against the president only an hour prior — highlights how they want something to bring home to their constituents ahead of 2020 as well.

Go deeperArrowDec 10, 2019

Mexicans throw 11th hour curveball at Trump's biggest trade deal

Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal during a news conference on the USMCA trade agreement, Dec.10. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Democrats have a "tentative plan" to vote Thursday on the trade deal President Trump negotiated with Mexico and Canada to replace NAFTA, per a senior House Democratic aide, but Mexican officials are complicating those plans.

Driving the news: "Mexico's top trade negotiator plans to return to Washington ... to express his outrage over language in the U.S. bill to implement the new North American trade agreement," Politico's Sabrina Rodriguez reports.

Go deeperArrowDec 16, 2019

House passes USMCA free trade deal

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The House voted 385-41 Thursday to pass a revised version of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a trade pact President Trump negotiated to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Why it matters: Completing the trade deal has been one of President Trump's biggest policy goals in 2019. House Democrats' decision to back it earlier this month highlights how they want something concrete to bring home to their constituents ahead of the new year as well, even after voting to impeach the president on Wednesday night.

Go deeperArrowDec 19, 2019