The most powerful woman in U.S. politics rallied Illinois Democrats in Springfield on Wednesday, saying the Land of Lincoln is a beacon for the rest of the country.
As for a trade deal that Illinois’ farmers and manufacturers want in place, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it’s not ready yet.
Inside a packed hotel convention room, where thousands of people paid between $75 to $1,500 per ticket to attend the annual Illinois Democratic County Chairs Association brunch, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Springfield, said Pelosi, D-California, is President Donald Trump’s main nemesis.
“And when Donald Trump and his lapdogs in Congress run for reelection what are they going to run into? A wall called Nancy,” Durbin said. “Yes, Donald Trump has finally found his wall.”
Illinois Democrats used the brunch to hear from a variety of the state’s top elected officials. They also heralded passing a budget and statewide infrastructure plan – paid for with tax increases – and other policies on abortion rights, increasing the minimum wage and recreational cannabis legalization.
Pelosi said Illinois has been a leader in passing progressive policies.
“A mainstream agenda can also be a progressive agenda, it has been proven in Illinois,” Pelosi said. “Let’s make it happen for the rest of the country.”
As for policies affecting Illinois main industries, Republicans, farmers and manufacturers want the United States Mexico Canada Agreement on trade in place to get goods moving while the president works on a deal with China.
Pelosi, the House Speaker, controls what legislation is called for a vote. She said her party wants to improve on issues of labor, environment, pharmaceuticals and enforcement.
“It isn’t ready,” Pelosi said. “What might be acceptable in Mexico, and we respect that, are not strong enough assurances for us that it really will be better. It’s not just saying ‘NAFTA’ and ‘NAFTA with a little sugar on top.’ No, it has to be, really make a difference in the lives of America’s workers.”
Illinois Manufacturers' Association President Mark Denzler said USMCA can’t be modified.
“This is a trilateral agreement,” Denzler said. “Mexico has already ratified it, so the United States has to vote up or down on the current thing.”
Pelosi said they’ve got a committee working through the details to get closer to a “yes” vote. A timeline wasn’t provided.
Republicans have said Pelosi and Democrats are playing election-year politics with the trade agreement. Trump has said the USMCA is important to farmers and manufacturers while he continues negotiations with China, something he said they’re willing to wait for the results of the 2020 election.
Illinois Republicans host U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, Thursday in Springfield.