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Key labor leader says rushing NAFTA replacement would be "colossal mistake"

Richard Trumka
Richard Trumka at a rally. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka urged House Democrats not to expedite the approval of a new North American trade deal in the coming weeks, telling the Washington Post in an interview: “If there was a vote before Thanksgiving, the agreement would be defeated."

Why it matters: Trumka has the backing of the 12.5 million member AFL-CIO federation, giving him significant influence on the thinking of House Democrats as they continue to negotiate the Trump-backed United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA).

The state of play: House Democrats have been negotiating the USMCA trade deal with the Trump administration for months, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Republicans are pushing for a vote as soon as Thanksgiving.

  • In particular, Democrats are seeking assurances from Mexico that the government will enforce fair labor standards to ensure that U.S. companies don't outsource manufacturing south of the border, which could deal a blow to blue-collar jobs, per the Post.
  • Democratic leaders are also considering whether it would be worth giving Trump a major legislative win at the same time they are engaged in an impeachment inquiry and a 2020 election campaign against the president.

Go deeper: The trade deal that might survive impeachment