Trump Signs USMCA Into Law, Sealing Political Win With Bipartisan Deal

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President Donald Trump signed into law a new trade pact with Canada and Mexico on Wednesday, sealing a political victory that will help neutralize Democratic attacks on his economic record. The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, delivers on one of Trump’s core campaign promises: to replace the Clinton-era North American Free Trade agreement that the president said has drained the U.S. of jobs. “We are finally ending the Nafta nightmare,” Trump said Wednesday at a signing ceremony on the White House South Lawn. He then read through an extensive list of Republican lawmakers, thanking them for their help passing the deal. The trade accord marks a rare moment of bipartisanship, but the two sides aren’t sharing the glory. The White House attendance list for the event included 71 Republican lawmakers but no Democrats, who say they weren’t invited. Representative Collin Peterson, the only remaining Democrat to vote against both articles of impeachment against Trump, said through a spokesman that he was invited but couldn’t attend. A White House spokesman didn’t immediately respond to questions on the invitations. Democrats have taken aim at Trump’s economic policies — including tax cuts that benefited corporations and the wealthy — but attacking his approach to trade has proved more complicated as they compete for votes in swing states that have seen manufacturing jobs disappear. Trump is scheduled to travel Thursday to Michigan and Iowa — where he’s expected to tout the agreement just as Democrats try to win over voters in next week’s Iowa caucuses. The White House was able to garner bipartisan support for the USMCA by adding labor safeguards and altering protections for drug patents. The pact provides expanded access for U.S. agricultural exports, new rules of origin for auto parts and additional protections for internet companies. White House aides argue that the deal shows that Trump is continuing to get work done despite the ongoing Senate impeachment trial over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a chief 2020 rival for the White House. “He’s talked about USMCA, and he talked about the pro-growth initiatives and the economy that has boomed under him. So he keeps working — that’s fine,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in an interview with Fox News last Friday. “They’ll continue to scream impeachment — that’s fine.” The new trade provisions are projected to add about 0.35% to the economy after six years. But the accord’s passage has had a more immediate effect on investors, easing concerns that Trump could disrupt the economy by pulling out of Nafta without a new deal in place. Since Dec. 10 — when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that she had struck a deal with the White House to pass the USMCA — the S&P 500 Index has gained about 4.6% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average has improved more than 3%. Markets were also bolstered during that period by a “phase one” trade deal with China. Speaking before the signing, Pelosi said Democrats only agreed to support the deal after the White House caved to their demands for greater protections for American workers and the environment. “What the president is signing is quite different than what the president sent us,” Pelosi said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, said “the only reason the president is having the signing is because of the work House Democrats” did to improve labor and environmental protections. Read more: New Nafta Leaves Winners and Losers Across North America A record 56% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, according to a Washington Post and ABC News poll released this week. That’s a 10 percentage point improvement from September. And optimism about the economy appears to be off-setting the political damage from impeachment. The president’s overall approval rating matched his record high of 44% in the same survey.At the same time, just 5% of Americans say they disapprove of the USMCA, according to a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday. Those trends — along with bipartisan congressional support for the pact — have effectively made USMCA a non-issue in the Democratic primaries. Subscribe to our YouTube channel: QUICKTAKE ON SOCIAL: Follow QuickTake on Twitter: Like QuickTake on Facebook: Follow QuickTake on Instagram: Subscribe to our newsletter: Email us at QuickTake by Bloomberg is a global news network delivering up-to-the-minute analysis on the biggest news, trends and ideas for a new generation of leaders.  QuickTake by Bloomberg