May 23, 2019 / 8:23 PM / a year ago

Trump says Speaker Pelosi wants two weeks to learn U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump said on Thursday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not understand the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal and had told the U.S. trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, she wanted two weeks to get to know the agreement.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) holds her weekly news conference with Capitol Hill reporters in Washington, U.S., May 23, 2019. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan

“Pelosi does not understand the bill, she doesn’t understand it ... so she’s got to get up to snuff, learn the bill,” Trump said at a White House event.

“She’s a mess. Look, let’s face it, she doesn’t understand it,” Trump said.

Pelosi, responding to Trump’s remarks, tweeted: “When the ‘extremely stable genius’ starts acting more presidential, I’ll be happy to work with him on infrastructure, trade and other issues.”

Pelosi was invoking a comment made by Trump earlier on Thursday, when he called himself “an extremely stable genius” as the two engaged in a heated war of words.

Republicans in Congress are pushing for ratification of the USMCA, which would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, before lawmakers leave Washington for their August recess. As the House of Representatives speaker, Pelosi, a Democrat, controls when any initial vote could take place.

Text of the agreement has been published since October 2018, but some Democratic lawmakers have demanded stronger enforcement provisions for USMCA’s new labor and environmental standards and it is unclear whether this can be achieved through the USMCA’s implementing legislation.

A two-week study period would eat up a dwindling number of legislative days before Congress starts its break on Aug. 3. “I think that’s a long time,” said Trump, who has been feuding with Democrats over the probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Senate Republicans said on Tuesday that Lighthizer believes that negotiations with Pelosi over passage of the trade deal were making progress and being handled “in good faith.”

Legislatures from Canada and Mexico, as well as the United States, need to approve the new trade pact before it can take effect.

Reporting by David Alexander; editing by Grant McCool and Leslie Adler

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