President Donald Trump was quick to proclaim victory in September with the sealing of a deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. He claimed the United States-Mexico Canada Agreement, as the new deal is known, offered proof that his pugnacious approach toward tariffs and trade could deliver. If all goes as planned, U.S. officials will join their Canadian and Mexican counterparts in Buenos Aires on Nov. 30 for a ceremonial signing. But that marks just one step on the new Nafta’s winding road toward becoming a business reality.
The U.S. president’s next challenge is to get the deal through Congress. Democrats, the incoming majority in the House of Representatives, say they’re ready to deny Trump the easy win he craves. Richard Neal, the Massachusetts congressman set to take over as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, says he and his fellow Democrats have concerns over a new pact he calls not “properly fashioned yet.” Bill Pascrell, the outspoken New Jersey Democrat and longtime Nafta skeptic vying to chair the Ways and Means trade subcommittee, is blunter still. “The deal was not a deal,” he says. “You’re going to see a lot of changes.”
In the U.S., trade deals are subject to a procedure known as Trade Promotion Authority. TPA guidelines allow these deals to avoid endless amendments and limit Congress to an up-or-down vote. There are often lengthy negotiations between the legis