Mnuchin to lawmakers: 'I'm highly encouraged you will' pass Trump's North America trade deal

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading Hillicon Valley: Pelosi works to remove legal protections for tech companies from USMCA | Treasury sanctions Russian group over 0 million hack | Facebook sues Chinese individuals for ad fraud | Huawei takes legal action against FCC Mnuchin to lawmakers: ‘I’m highly encouraged you will’ pass Trump’s North America trade deal MORE said Thursday that he’s optimistic that Congress will approve the administration’s new North American trade pact despite the House’s escalating efforts to impeach President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrumps light 97th annual National Christmas Tree Trump to hold campaign rally in Michigan ‘Don’t mess with Mama’: Pelosi’s daughter tweets support following press conference comments MORE

Mnuchin told lawmakers he believes that Congress will pass Trump’s proposed rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), even as Republican accuse Democrats of slow-walking the deal. 

“This would create additional jobs, this would create additional revenue for the government, additional revenue for consumer and businesses, and it modernizes trade with our two most important trading partners,” Mnuchin told the House Financial Services Committee, moments after Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy Pelosi ‘Don’t mess with Mama’: Pelosi’s daughter tweets support following press conference comments Bloomberg: Trump should be impeached On The Money: Congress races to beat deadline on shutdown | Trump asks Supreme Court to shield financial records from House Democrats | House passes bill to explicitly ban insider trading MORE (D-Calif.) announced she had instructed committees to draft articles of impeachment against Trump. 

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“I’m not going to speculate on what what happen if you don’t pass it, because I’m highly encouraged you will.”

With less than a year until the 2020 elections, Trump and Democrats both face increasing political pressure to ratify the president’s proposed NAFTA rewrite, called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). 

Democratic and White House negotiators have expressed hope over the past month that the two sides will soon strike a deal after more than a year of negotiations over labor enforcement, environmental and pharmaceutical provisions of the deal.

As House Democrats close in on a vote to impeach Trump, the party is eager to prove it can still legislate with the president as lawmakers hold him accountable. Passing the USMCA is also a concern for moderate Democrats from swing districts that could flip back into GOP control.

Trump is seeking his first major trade victory amid stalled talks with China and an escalating feud with the European Union. Ratifying the USMCA may be crucial for Trump to maintain his 2016 support from industrial Midwestern states that paved his road to victory in 2020.

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Pelosi has insisted that impeachment will have no impact on the Democrats’ “path to yes” on the USMCA and suggested the caucus and White House could reach a deal by the end of the year. 

But Republicans claim Democrats have dragged their feet on the USMCA and hindered the economy while prioritizing Trump’s impeachment.

“House Democrats are continuing their three-year-long quest to impeach the president and continuing to obstruct urgent bipartisan legislation,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocratic challenger to Joni Ernst releases ad depicting her as firing gun at him Senate confirms eight Trump court picks in three days The case for censuring, and not impeaching, Donald Trump MORE (R-Ky.) said Tuesday, citing the USMCA.

Mnuchin didn’t address impeachment Thursday, focusing instead on the potential economic benefits of passing the USMCA. He said the deal would be a major boost to “the single most important trading relationship we have,” and add roughly 0.5 percentage points to gross domestic product growth. 

Mnuchin also said the deal would help spur falling capital expenditures, which he argued would have otherwise increased after the passage of the 2017 tax-cut law. The secretary sparred with Rep. Denny HeckDennis (Denny) Lynn HeckExclusive: Guccifer 2.0 hacked memos expand on Pennsylvania House races Heck enjoys second political wind Incoming lawmaker feeling a bit overwhelmed MORE (D-Wash.) earlier in the hearing over a persistent decline in business investment, in which Mnuchin accused Heck, who announced this week he won’t seek reelection, of “screaming” at him.

“There’s a lot of people who are waiting on the sidelines because of USMCA,” Mnuchin said.

Rep. Andy BarrAndy Hale BarrMnuchin to lawmakers: ‘I’m highly encouraged you will’ pass Trump’s North America trade deal Kentucky Democrat moves closer to McConnell challenge Advocates step up efforts for horse racing reform bill after more deaths MORE (R-Ky.) echoed Mnuchin, saying the lack of progress on the USMCA “is why we don’t have that that line continuing to grow up in terms of capital expenditure.” 

“The best thing we can do in a bipartisan way in this Congress is to pass the USMCA.”

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