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Jesús Seade. Photo: Pedro Gonzalez Castillo/Getty Images

A top Mexican trade negotiator traveled to Washington on Sunday to push back against U.S. officials for allegedly blindsiding Mexico with a provision to designate labor monitors as part of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the Washington Post reports.

The big picture: House Democrats came out in support of the USMCA last week after successfully negotiating a mechanism to ensure the enforcement of labor standards in Mexico, which had been a sticking point during trade talks. Mexico had claimed during negotiations that foreign labor inspectors would violate its sovereignty, and the three countries had instead settled on three-person panels to resolve labor disputes.

  • Legislation scheduled to be voted on in the House next week, however, includes a provision to appoint up to five attachés to monitor Mexico's labor conditions.
  • Jesús Seade, Mexico's undersecretary for North America in the Foreign Ministry, told reporters Saturday that the plan was “never mentioned to Mexico — never. And, of course, we don’t agree."

Between the lines: Mexico and the U.S. depend on one another for trade. Mexico's government has been strongly in favor of revamping NAFTA, with the Mexican Senate overwhelmingly voting in favor of the new deal Thursday.

  • The labor issue has since erupted into a political controversy, however, with some Mexican officials now questioning what they had signed up to.
  • Critics accused Seade of being careless during final negotiations with the U.S., according to the Post.

Go deeper: Business groups express growing dissatisfaction with USMCA compromise

Go deeper

20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Vaccinations, relief timing dominate Sweet 16 call

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) speaks during a news conference in December with a group of bipartisan lawmakers. Photo: Caroline Brehman/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

Progressives pressure Schumer to end filibuster

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Photo: Win McNamee / Getty Images

A progressive coalition is pressuring Chuck Schumer on his home turf by running a digital billboard in Times Square urging the new majority leader to end the Senate filibuster.

Why it matters: Schumer is up for re-election in 2o22 and could face a challenger, and he's also spearheading his party's broader effort to hold onto its narrow congressional majorities.

5 hours ago - Health

U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

A mass COVID-19 vaccination site at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 22 in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.