‘This is a day we’ve all been working to and working for on the path to “yes”…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) After achieving Democrats’ signature agenda item on Tuesday—announcing two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump—House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., immediately shifted focus by supporting a pending deal on one of Trump’s top priorities.
Pelosi followed the House Judiciary announcement in short succession with a press conference on the USMCA trade deal that Trump negotiated with neighboring Mexico and Canada to replace the Bill Clinton-era NAFTA pact.
“This is a day we’ve all been working to and working for on the path to ‘yes,’” she said at the press conference, ostensibly in reference to the trade agreement.
“We were in range for a while, uh, but until we could cross a certain threshold of enforcement for our workers rights, for environment and for the prescription drug issue—as you know they were three of the areas that we had put out there,” Pelosi continued.
With many on both sides of the issue seeing Democrats’ impeachment effort as the pinnacle of political dysfunction in Washington, the rare show of bipartisanship sought—at the very least—to blunt the outrage.
Prior to Thanksgiving, Pelosi met with a group of vulnerable freshman Democrats, some of whom had conveyed anxiety about the House leadership’s prioritization of the politically risky impeachment over the trade agreement.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Pelosi praised the eight Democratic members of the negotiating task force—as well as Richard Trumka, president of the AFL–CIO labor union—for their persistence.
“There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA,” she said.
“But in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially oppo—uh—proposed by the administration,” she added. “… It’s a victory for America’s workers. It’s one that we take great pride—uh—great pride in advancing.”
Pelosi spoke for about three minutes before handing the podium to Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., chair of the House Ways and Means Committee and leader of the task force that worked to negotiate the Trump agreement. “He was, indeed, a maestro,” Pelosi said.
Both Democrats and Republicans applauded the breakthrough—which Trump, himself, had touted a day earlier.
Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., sought to put it into perspective by saying House Democrats had come to the table out of political necessity.
“Speaker Pelosi’s ‘dam of obstruction’ has formed a small crack in which President Trump’s USMCA trade agreement has leaked through,” he said in a statement.
“… Overwhelming public support for USMCA and a growing frustration of obstruction is what has brought USMCA to a vote, but the Democrats will certainly try to take full credit,” Loudermilk continued. “Once in place, USMCA will bring another $68 billion to our historically strong economy, creating more jobs, more pay increases, and more stability for American workers, as well as our trade partners in Canada and Mexico.”
Still, the timing of it raised even more questions about the other story that was sure to eclipse it in the news cycle.
Pelosi’s decision to pair the announcement with the earlier filing of impeachment articles may simply be a bid to appease her divided base and make Democrats seem more reasonable than their singular-minded obsession with attacking Trump would suggest.
However, there are other indications that Pelosi may genuinely be feeling the strain of the Left’s impeachment gambit and actively seeking to downplay the move after becoming mired in skepticism and criticism.
The raw nerves appeared to show in a flash of rage last week after Fox News correspondent Ed Henry asked her if she hated Trump.
During a CNN town hall Thursday, intending to advance her case for articles impeachment, Pelosi instead became frazzled by audience questions and instructed them to stop asking about it, reported Yahoo News.
“Can we not have any more questions about impeachment?” Pelosi said, to laughter from the audience. “I don’t mind questions, but to ask me questions through the prism of the White House is like, what?”
Throughout the process, Pelosi’s inconsistent statements—from her previous insistence upon bipartisan support to her shifting timeline for voting on the articles—has undercut the claims that Democrats are taking it seriously.
Whether the newfound focus on compromise with the trade deal is a savvy and shrewdly calculated plan to navigate the choppy waters ahead or, rather, a reactive and desperate bid to deflect attention from the already cascading chain of regrets, it remains to be seen.