President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump boasts that Kim Jong Un ‘was so happy to see me’ Romney defends Paul Ryan: ‘The fault for our 2012 loss is mine alone’ Trump declares emergency over Tropical Storm Barry MORE on Friday sought to boost his renegotiated North America trade agreement during a speech to employees at a Wisconsin factory as his top legislative priority faces an uncertain path through Congress.
The president touted the U.S.-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA), which he announced nearly a year ago as an alternative to NAFTA. Trump has repeatedly slammed the latter deal as the “worst trade deal” in the country’s history.
“For years members of Congress have demanded a replacement for NAFTA,” Trump said during remarks at Derco Aerospace Inc. in Milwaukee.
“Now they finally have the best replacement that they could ever even imagine,” he continued. “The farmers can’t believe it. The manufactures can’t believe it… the unions can’t believe it. It’s good for everybody.”
Trump urged Congress to approve the USMCA “immediately” so that he could sign it into law. He encouraged lawmakers to view the new trade agreement as a “bipartisan bill” before attacking House Democrats over ongoing investigations into his administration.
“View it as a bipartisan bill. And it shows that Congress is doing something other than wasting time on the witch hunt and the nonsense that they work so hard at,” he said. “If they worked 1/100 as hard on immigration it would be solved in about 15 minutes. It’s just a waste of time.”
While Mexico has ratified the USMCA and Canada has taken steps to approve aspects of the deal, the pact has stalled in Congress as House Democrats push for additional assurances on environmental and labor protections.
Trump administration trade officials have praised Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump: Ocasio-Cortez being ‘very disrespectful’ to Pelosi Hannity invites Ocasio-Cortez to join primetime show for full hour NYT: Don’t make Acosta a political martyr MORE (D-Calif.) for her collaboration in working through changes to the legislation, but time is running out if lawmakers are to approve the trade deal before the end of the year.
The odds of passage are significantly reduced at the end of the year once the focus in Washington shifts to the presidential election, though Trump suggested Friday that the political calendar should not matter.
“We shouldn’t be playing around,” Trump said. “And everyday that goes by it gets more and more political because we get closer and closer to the election.”
CNBC reported that the White House is likely to send the USMCA to Congress after Sept. 1.
The president’s speech at times meandered into familiar territory as he knocked Democratic presidential candidates, derided U.S. immigration laws and defended his use of tariffs as a negotiating tool with China and other countries.
Trump’s visit to Wisconsin came on the heels of his withering attacks on former Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRomney defends Paul Ryan: ‘The fault for our 2012 loss is mine alone’ Trump slams Paul Ryan for ‘atrocious’ record: ‘Couldn’t get him out of Congress fast enough!’ Author: Paul Ryan saw retirement as an ‘escape hatch’ from Trump MORE (R-Wis.), who is quoted in a forthcoming book as being critical of the president’s behavior and governing sense.
“Paul Ryan was a terrible Speaker,” Trump said as he departed the White House for Ryan’s home state earlier in the day Friday. “Frankly, he was a baby. He didn’t know what the hell he was doing.”