New Op-ed: Has Nancy Pelosi lost control of her conference?
Has Nancy Pelosi lost control of her conference?
Congress is back in session. We will see if Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has completely lost control of her conference.
Pelosi knows House Democrats have to produce something other than made-for-TV movies featuring a supporting cast of superannuated retreads.
The endless impeachment series is a turnoff for the voters who gave her the majority, but it seems the speaker is powerless to change the channel.
She's tried to placate her conference's left-wing firebrands. And that's resulted in everyone but Nancy – who wants to keep the majority – getting what they want.
She gave choice committee assignments to AOC plus 3. They repaid the favor by accusing the speaker of racism and making anti-Semitism, vulgarities and "green dreams" the face of the party.
She let Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings play Inspector Clousseau with high-and-mighty sounding investigations devoid of any serious legislative or oversight purpose. They eat up news cycles like Doritos on Super Bowl Sunday.
And she let Jerry Nadler act out his Sam Ervin and Peter Rodino fantasies before the TV cameras, reanimating John Dean and publicly humiliating Robert Mueller in the process.
Yes, everyone in the wing-nut wing of the party from super-liberal districts got what they wanted.
But the middle-of-the-road Democrats from swing districts who flipped the House last year, the members elected on the promise they'd put the good of the country before political games, are still waiting for something to show voters.
For these Democrats hungry to put a solid accomplishment under their belts, there's an item on the menu they find quite palatable: USMCA, the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement.
It replaces NAFTA, the 25-year-old North America Free Trade Agreement. Long-time Democratic voters and politicians, including Nancy Pelosi, have blamed NAFTA for sending hundreds of thousands of jobs south of the border.
USMCA is important for the most vulnerable House Democrats, members such as Reps. Susan Wild (Pa.-7), Abigail Spanberger (Va.-7) and Cindy Axne (Iowa-3), running in districts President Trump won.
Freshman Rep. T.J. Cox, D-Calif., beat an incumbent Republican by 862 votes last year. He tweets, "The USCMA is critical for farmers and ranchers in the Central Valley. Millions of jobs depend on Congress doing *its* job and passing this trade deal."
Rep. Cox knows one of the "millions of jobs" that depends on "Congress doing its job and passing this trade deal" is his own.
Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-N.Y., knows that, too. He won his seat in a rural upstate New York district by fewer than 4,500 votes. He says, "It's important USMCA gets adopted."
Rep. Jim Costa, D-Calif., the House Livestock Subcommittee chairman, says USMCA is an improvement over NAFTA; the Ag Committee chairman, Rep. Colin Peterson, D-Minn., wants to pass it now.
Labor likes the new agreement, too.
U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer worked closely with unions to address their concerns when he negotiated the USMCA. Teamsters hated NAFTA for allowing Mexican truckers to drive on U.S. highways, and USMCA fixes that.
Autoworkers wanted to claw back jobs that moved from Michigan to Mexico (and China) under NAFTA. USMCA raises the amount of American-made parts needed for cars and trucks to qualify for tariff-free treatment. It also mandates higher wages for workers building those vehicles, a first for any trade deal.
Organized labor wanted stronger laws to protect Mexican unions. USMCA requires that. The populist president of Mexico, who is so far left he makes Bernie Sanders look like Mitt Romney, changed his country's labor laws and approved the agreement.
Even Public Citizen, the super-liberal Ralph Nader organization that led the fight against NAFTA, recognizes USMCA is an improvement over previous trade agreements.
Farmers, labor unions and fair trade populists on both sides of the aisle like the USMCA. You can forget about all the trumped-up objections as simply eyewash.
The fact remains extremist House Democrats refuse to do anything that would "give Trump a victory."
Which makes you ask:
Is the real reason Nancy Pelosi hasn't brought USMCA up for a vote simply because she's lost control of her conference?
-Curtis Ellis is Senior Policy Director for America First Policies.