GOP in disarray over trade deal they spent months demanding Democrats pass


After months of demanding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi move forward on the USMCA deal, some Republicans are voicing their unhappiness.

For the past several months, Donald Trump and Republicans in both the House and Senate have hammered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic majority, demanding they move forward on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. But after Pelosi and Trump reached a deal Monday to move forward, many Republicans seem unhappy with the result.

Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell grumbled about the final product to reporters Tuesday: "From my perspective, it's not as good as I'd hoped."

Trump sent U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to Thursday's Senate Republican caucus luncheon to calm members of his own party, Politico reported. Sen. Mike Braun (R-IN) also sought to talk down a GOP colleague, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who publicly attacked the deal as a "terrible new standard."

Toomey, a long-time free trade advocate, told CNBC Wednesday he would vote against the USMCA. He warned that the deal would be a step "backwards."

"Many of the changes are counterproductive," Toomey told the Hill on Tuesday. Among his complaints were that Pelosi had succeeded in getting enforceable labor protections into the deal.

Though they have not said they will oppose the bill, other prominent Republicans have also publicly expressed disappointment in the final agreement. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) said on Tuesday he has "concerns" and suggested that in the deal with Pelosi, Trump had given "away the store," according to Politico. He also complained to Lighthizer that he felt he and other members of the Senate Finance Committee had been "frozen out" of the negotiations.

"It leaves a little bit of a bitter taste in people's mouth," he told reporters. "I just don't like being jammed."

On Facebook, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) also criticized the USMCA final version. In a video message Tuesday, he said he'd support the deal but that the Democrats had made it worse by insisting on provisions that will lead to increased drug prices. "USMCA has always been a good deal for America and still is. But why insist on adding this bad policy?" he groused.

The Washington Post reported that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) also griped at the Thursday luncheon that the administration had conceded too much to House Democrats.

For much of 2019, the House and Senate Republican caucuses made USMCA a staple of their messaging. McConnell promised it would be a "win for America" and complained that House Democrats were slow-walking it. Congressional Republicans wrote letters to Pelosi, accused her of stalling, and tweeted messages featuring a #USMCAnow hashtag even before the deal had been formally submitted to Congress.

But once Pelosi signed on, the GOP unity vanished.

Trump, however, appeared to share none of those concerns. He praised his own deal as "the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.