Live

Watch CBSN Live

Pelosi to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer

U.S-China tariffs putting pressure on farmers

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), the deal negotiated by President Trump to replace NAFTA. Although Mr. Trump has often touted the agreement as already benefiting the U.S., it has not yet been ratified by Congress -- and House Democrats may be unwilling to approve it. 

House Democratic Caucus chairman Hakeem Jeffries, of New York, said Tuesday that there should be no vote on USMCA until it's "mature," and he told reporters that there are still concerns about labor enforcement. At the same time, Jeffries criticized Mr. Trump over the China tariffs, suggesting that his approach lacks a "strategic vision."

Pelosi has been skeptical about the USMCA -- she told Washington Post reporter Robert Costa last week that she didn't believe that the deal was an improvement on NAFTA when it came to protecting workers' rights.

"We have to do what we think is in the interest of American workers. We cannot mislead them," Pelosi said about the USMCA. "This would be like saying, 'You don't like NAFTA? Let me put a little syrup on top and serve it to you again and you will like it this time.' There is no difference."

However, Pelosi appears to have a good rapport with Lighthizer, saying in the interview with Costa that she thinks the trade representative "cares about American workers" and is "fabulous."

Mr. Trump has touted the USMCA deal as a means for Mexico to pay for a southern border wall. 

"Mexico is paying for the Wall through the new USMCA Trade Deal. Much of the Wall has already been fully renovated or built. We have done a lot of work. $5.6 Billion Dollars that House has approved is very little in comparison to the benefits of National Security. Quick payback!" Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter in January, referring to his proposed wall at the southern border.

His claim that Mexico will pay for the wall through the USMCA is false. Although the president has said that revenue from the trade deal could be allocated to build the wall, any taxes collected into the U.S. Treasury that could be allocated for wall construction would still have to be approved by Congress. Mr. Trump declared a national emergency at the border in February, in order to unilaterally designate funding for the wall after congressional Democrats refused to provide funding.

Pelosi and Lighthizer may also discuss the ongoing trade conflict with China. Both the U.S. and China are engaged in a tit-for-tat increase in tariffs. The administration boosted U.S. tariffs to 25 percent on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods on Friday. As promised, China on Monday struck back, vowing to raise its tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods from coffee to batteries to spinach, effective June 1.

The White House has also taken steps on Mr. Trump's previous threats to impose tariffs on essentially all of the remaining imported goods from China, which was America's biggest trading partner last year. Those levies would be added to about $325 billion in Chinese imports not currently subject to U.S. tariffs.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal are also expected to attend the meeting, which is occurring at Lighthizer's request.

Rachel Layne and Rebecca Kaplan contributed to this report