Biden aides are scrambling to assuage hard-line progressives and unions who fear a proposed trade pact will help President Trump’s 2020 reelection bid. The debate centers around the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which Trump pushed for as part of his America First agenda. Biden has yet to comment on the deal that survived hardball tactics by the Trump administration. However, his staff and Democratic allies fear that the pact could help Trump boost his standing on the economy and highlight the former vice president’s reluctance to take a position.
Biden aides and supporters are currently walking a tightrope, trying to appease progressives while still allowing for the deal’s passage. For instance, Robert E. Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative, recently agreed to incorporate stronger environmental, labor and pharmaceutical provisions to win Democratic support. Additionally, Biden allies such as Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon have backed a version of the deal, though with tweaks.
At the same time, Biden’s team is attempting to argue that the new USMCA pact is much improved over the original Trump proposal. Despite strong union and progressive opposition, initial approval of the agreement looks likely, and Biden supporters say it contains oversight measures and provides needed protection for workers’ rights and environmental standards.
Despite the Biden camp’s efforts, the dispute highlights the challenges facing the former vice president as he attempts to navigate the choppy waters of Washington climate. While Biden allies are eager to push through the USMCA, many progressives feel that it is still too advantageous to President Trump and his America First agenda.