Then-Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto, US President Donald Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sign the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Photo: AFP / Saul Loeb

A Republican lawmaker is threatening to squash the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement before it even goes into effect, adding to growing pressure from Democrats in Congress who have expressed concerns about the deal.

The agreement that US President Donald Trump has called the most important trade deal in the country’s history, “by far,” has yet to win necessary approval from Congress.  Republican Senator Chuck Grassley this week gave Trump an ultimatum: Nix metals tariffs or the deal is dead on arrival.

“If these tariffs aren’t lifted, USMCA is dead. There is no appetite in Congress to debate USMCA with these tariffs in place,” Grassley wrote in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece, referring to tariffs the Trump administration has placed on steel and aluminum.

Grassley, who is chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the tariffs – as well as retaliatory duties levied by Canada and Mexico – had led to lost jobs and lower wages.

But he added that Trump should continue to heap pressure on China.

“The administration can take the lead by promptly lifting tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico and working with allies to address the true source of overcapacity: China.”

The Trump administration placed tariffs on Chinese goods after it implemented the action on metals. While lawmakers in both parties have criticized the steel and aluminum import duties, there has been scant criticism of the trade challenge directed at China.

Grassley’s ultimatum is just one challenge the USMCA faces, as House Democrats, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said they would not even bring ratification legislation to the floor for a vote unless certain changes are made.

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