WASHINGTON – If the mid-term elections had to erase the uncertainty of tariffs, trade and other buzz on the window in the Canadian-US affairs, look at the strange world of politics in the United States of America.
A democratic majority in the House of Representatives was "very close to the full victory" for President Donald Trump. The elections were completed and were not over, due to differences in voting in Florida, Georgia and Arizona. There is a new trade deal, but the White House and Canada are still looking at each other under steel and aluminum.
So much success, and when or if the new Congress will ratify the new US-Mexico-Canada agreement.
"We do not know yet," said Ohio's commercial lawyer, Dan Ujczo, on how new members of the House might vote when Capitol Hill takes over USMCA, fearing it could now be a year or more.
Many clear voters Yes come down to win in the middle of the year, he said, including members of the Texas Congress, John Culberson and Pete Sessions, Erik Paulsen of Minnesota and David Young, among others – introducing another element of uncertainty in a political momentum that seems today to know a little bit more.
Uncertainty does not mean no, said Ujczo, a partner of American commercial and customs business Dickinson Wright.
"They are newcomers – they are going to pull in the direction of their campaign, or they reflect the voters' views," he said. "There will be great pressure on them to vote Yes, but it takes time – and it may be time we do not have."
While the tough agreement that emerged at the 11th hour six weeks ago after a 13-month marathon of difficult talks is expected to vote, the terms of the nearly 25-year deal it was supposed to replace would remain in force, federal officials in Ottawa say.
Powerful Republicans opposed to tariffs, such as Jake Sen Chak Grassley and Senate majority Mitch McConnell, remain around and exert their influence, they note. Thus, they are distinguished Democrats who prefer the new deal with the old, such as Senate Minority Chuck Schumer and Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.
But these steel and aluminum invoices are still around.
"There have been high-level debates, but there have been no direct negotiations," said US Ambassador to the United States David MacNaughton on the plan to reopen talks with US trade fair Robert Lighthizer.
"I saw Ambassador Lighthizer last week and told him:" When you're ready, let's sit down and talk. "
MacNaughton acknowledged that intermediaries might have asked more questions than they answered. But there is concern in the Canadian circles that Congress will do anything, but it will approve the deal when it is done around.
"There is currently a lack of clarity," he said. "But as people begin to understand the deal better, I think you will be surprised at the degree of support that exists."
Another paradox: one might think that a weakened Republican coffee shop would undermine Trump's doctrine to use tariffs to export more favorable trade terms. In fact, if the members who survived the middle of the year feel the need to align more closely with the president, the opposite could be true.
"The challenge is that the Trump administration, together with the US electorate, creates a realignment to the ideology of both sides," said Capri Cafaro, a former state lawmaker in Ohio,
"You have traditional Republican freelance merchants who believe that the tariffs are ridiculous … then you have the Trump Republicans who have embraced this more protective economic policy." These two groups of the Republican party will not agree.
This may be part of the reason why, at a White House press conference on Tuesday, the President seemed really satisfied with the results, even taking the time to read a list of Republican victims who had rejected the help in the campaign path.
"These are some of the people who, you know, have decided for their own reason not to embrace … me or what we support." But what we have meant meant much to most people, "he said," I'm not sure I should I'm happy or sad, but I feel good. "
While it is true that the Democrats won in several Congressional regions where tariffs were an issue, as in the home of Ohio, the victory margin was not enough to suggest to Ujczo that the result should be seen as a denial of Trump's trade.
"What we did not see on Tuesday was where these farmers, farmers who lose half of their lives because of these tariffs, are moving to the democratic party, and they did not," he said.
"I think it may be a stretch to say that it is the support for the continuation of this trade policy forever, but they give the chair a long leash."
– Follow James McCarten on Twitter @CdnPressStyle