North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Big Pharma protections trip up Trump's NAFTA replacement

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Prescription drugs may be the latest snag for President Trump’s proposed NAFTA replacement.

The big picture: Trump's deal, known as USMCA, already faces an uncertain fate in the Democratic-controlled House, as my colleague Jonathan Swan reported earlier this week. And now Democrats are homing in on the deal's protections for biologic drugs, according to the Associated Press.

Behind the scenes: Troubles ahead for Trump's NAFTA replacement

President Trump at a press conference last year on a revised U.S. trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.
President Trump at a press conference last year on a revised U.S. trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

About 10 days ago, a deputy to Trump's top trade negotiator gave a shockingly optimistic forecast on the political fate of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) — the president’s renegotiated NAFTA deal. To the bemusement of two sources on the call, C.J. Mahoney, Robert Lighthizer’s deputy, said he figured the USMCA could get through Congress with huge bipartisan support by the end of April.

Between the lines: Nobody we've spoken to on Capitol Hill thinks Mahoney's prediction is remotely possible. While the two sources on the call were impressed with his technical grasp of the trade deal, they called his comments on its political fate "naïve," saying they betrayed only a tenuous comprehension of the USMCA's troubled standing with Congress.

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