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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.

The big picture: The Trump administration has negotiated for months with Canada and Mexico to secure labor provisions, which were key to earning Democratic support.

  • On Tuesday, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka announced that the powerful union would endorse the deal, noting: "President Trump may have opened this deal. But working people closed it. And for that, we should be proud."
  • Pelosi said at the press conference: "There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA. But in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration."

What's next: Negotiating teams from the three countries will meet in Mexico Tuesday to announce the changes and likely participate in a signing ceremony, according to Politico. Pelosi will bring a vote in the House next week before lawmakers depart for December recess.

Go deeper: The trade deal that might survive impeachment