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Is Nancy Pelosi holding up major U.S. trade deal over politics? Expert panel debates


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"It's clear that there probably are the votes in the House between the Republicans and the Democrats" to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA), a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University said Fox Nation's "Deep Dive" on Thursday.

"The question is, what is Nancy Pelosi going to decide?" Veronique de Rugy asked on the "Dive" panel.

The USMCA is the proposed deal that President Trump hammered out with his counterparts in Mexico and Canada in October of 2018 to replace the existing trade agreement, NAFTA.  At the moment, the USMCA awaits final approval by Congress and the other signatory countries.

On Thursday, the White House accused House Speaker Pelosi of ignoring the will of the American people by announcing a vote on impeachment rather than the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement during her 20-minute weekly press conference on Thursday. She did not mention the USMCA at all.

"What her goal is is to put a Democrat in the White House in 2021," de Rugy said. "And it's going to depend on whether she can turn the passage of USMCA as a victory for the Democrats, or whether really it is more important to not give a victory to the president."

"These are not the same Democrats that passed NAFTA," added Jorge Suarez-Velez, the founding partner of SP capital, which advises small companies, focusing on Latin America. "This is a party that has moved more towards protectionism. If you look at the creed of Elizabeth Warren, in terms of trade, I mean, she doesn't want to trade with anyone."

De Rugy agreed with Suarez-Velez, though both acknowledged that President Trump has also expressed skepticism towards traditional trade agreements.

Suarez-Velez also raised concern that should the Congress fail to approve the USMCA, the U.S. may find itself in a precarious position in the face of a potential further escalation in the ongoing trade dispute with China.

"I think what is being neglected by this short-term political gaming is you will have a big trade war with China. And I'm positive all that. I think it's not going to happen before the election because Trump understands that that would hurt the economy," predicted Suarez-Velez. "The big question that Americans should be asking themselves is, are we better prepared for that war keeping a very solid supply chain because of having three integrated countries or it would be better for the U.S. to be on their own?

"I think it's, without a doubt, the three countries are stronger," he concluded.

To watch all of "Deep Dive" go to Fox Nation and sign up today.

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Fox Nation programs are viewable on-demand and from your mobile device app, but only for Fox Nation subscribers. Go to Fox Nation to start a free trial and watch the extensive library from Tomi Lahren, Pete Hegseth, Abby Hornacek, Laura Ingraham, Ainsley Earhardt, Greg Gutfeld, Judge Andrew Napolitano and many more of your favorite Fox News personalities.

Fox Business Network's Paul Conner contributed to this report.


Source: Is Nancy Pelosi holding up major U.S. trade deal over politics? Expert panel debates

Mixing Politics and Procurement Creates a Toxic Brew


Imagine this: You are a mid-career government acquisition professional responsible for making an award decision on a contract worth over $400 million. As you evaluate the bids you also can’t help but see and hear the president of the United States openly advocate for one bidder. You’ve already heard, directly or through channels, that one or more U.S. senators are also pressing for this company to get the award. What are you going to do?

This is the heart of the controversy swirling around the recent award of a border wall contract to a North Dakota company for which the president and at least one senator publicly advocated. Was the award politically influenced? Is the company the best positioned to build this portion of the border wall along the southwest border? Since the company was deemed unqualified on more than one previous occasion, one has to wonder: Has the company taken significant steps forward in its capabilities to the point where it is now best suited to the requirements of the contract?

Of course we don’t know the answers to any of those questions. Neither does the president or the senator. And we may only get answers should another bidder protest the award and the questions are litigated. But that’s not actually the biggest concern this incident raises. The biggest concern is that we even have to have this discussion.

This is not the first time recently that the issue of political interference has arisen in federal contracting. Amazon Web Services is currently battling the Defense Department over the award of a major cloud services contract known as JEDI (for Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure) to Microsoft Azure. Prior to the award, the conventional wisdom was that Amazon was uniquely positioned to win the contract. At least one competitor even took legal action against the procurement before bids were submitted, claiming that the competition was rigged for Amazon. Ironically, even as all this was going on, President Trump loudly proclaimed his disdain for Amazon and its founder Jeff Bezos, and made it clear he did not want Amazon to win the contract. Now, Amazon is claiming that the President’s explicit opposition to the company caused it to lose the award, which, of course, would be illegal.

I don’t know the government’s rationale for making the selections it made in the border wall contract or the Pentagon’s cloud contract. Nor do I know which companies are most qualified to perform the work. But here’s the thing: Neither does the president, or any senator, or any other elected official (and few, if any, appointed ones). And the fact that there are credible questions about political interference in the awards should concern everyone committed to procurement integrity. Allegations of cronyism may be as old as public procurement and at one time or another have beset almost every administration. But not at the level we are now seeing.

The federal procurement system is specifically designed to be apolitical. Members of Congress sometimes advocate for constituent companies, but the system is remarkably effective at absorbing those entreaties without inappropriately impacting actual procurement outcomes. Indeed, the very essence of federal acquisition is that awards must demonstrably be in the best interest of taxpayers. And any explicit or implicit effort to violate that core tenet is both illegal and a direct assault on the public interest. Full stop.

Likewise, the acquisition workforce is trained to be studiously apolitical in its work. As imperfect, even troubled, as the system is on many levels, one would be hard pressed to find a significant number of contract decisions that have been politically ordained.

That’s why the JEDI and border wall cases merit close examination and much more attention. In more than 30 years around federal procurement, I have never seen two procurements subject to such explicit political pressure, particularly from the president. We need to know if those pressures did, in fact, influence the procurement decisions and if the awards made were actually the right calls.

Americans deserve to know that such decisions are being made in the public’s best interests; that we can have faith in the integrity of this central function of government. Moreover, it is widely accepted that the acquisition workforce must be empowered to take reasonable risk. As such, they deserve to know they will be fully supported when they ignore political pressure and make thoughtful decisions for the right reasons. 

Regardless of one’s views of this president or this administration, there should be no debate about the importance of ensuring that our procurement system is and remains as apolitical as is humanly possible; that direct or implied pressure from on high has no place if we are to ensure its integrity. Indeed, it would be a tragedy of massive implications if that core ethic were to become yet another norm tossed aside.


Source: Mixing Politics and Procurement Creates a Toxic Brew

Politics and the law collide in impeachment hearings


Two simultaneous conversations are going on during the impeachment trial. One is about the law and trying to frame concepts such as bribery, extortion, or obstruction of justice into the more uncertain text of the Constitution.

Although these concepts are useful in understanding the text of the Constitution, ultimately, the founders left the decision in Congress’s hands. They enumerated two crimes they knew were impeachable, treason and bribery. They added a more general reference to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” They expected that members of Congress should make their own determination of what constitutes an impeachable offense.

The other conversation going on in these proceedings is a political one. This process merges politics and law. That is by design. It is up to the people, watching the hearings, to judge for themselves whether or not the impeachment proceedings are appropriate. That will determine what steps are taken next, as politicians respond to polling about the proceedings.

At times it is frustrating when the political nature of these proceedings overpowers the legal, and the result is a process that is cheaper for it. Unfortunately, most people will recall little more from this week’s hearing than a silly analogy to royal first names or the regrettable choice of a witness who supported impeachment a bit too early in the president’s term.

I imagine the founders understood that voters would be made aware of impeachment proceedings — they enjoyed active newspapers and letters that kept the colonies informed about the goings-on in the capital. They didn’t know the extent to which voters could now watch the proceedings in real time, but I imagine they would have enjoyed C-SPAN heartily and spent many hours watching it with a tall glass of mead in hand.

This week in the House Judiciary Committee, the impeachment proceedings properly began with a hearing about the Constitution. The White House and committee Republicans offered talking points about elitism and the ivory tower, but what better way to approach impeachment proceedings with the sober gravity they deserve?

Is their point that constitutional law professors have political leanings? That’s not really a surprise.

It was a week to be proud that we live in a country where an effort to remove the president doesn't begin with mobs or the military, or worse, with those dangerous foreign alliances that the founders so feared when they designed the impeachment process in the Constitution.

No, an effort to remove the president began with a hearing aired on TV where Congress heard from professors of constitutional law about the finer points of the Constitution and the historical meaning of phrases like “high crimes and misdemeanors” and “abuse of authority.”

This author personally determined that impeachment and conviction were appropriate, based on a close read of the Mueller report and President Trump's and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney’s admissions that they pressured Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's family's activities in Ukraine. Voters will have an opportunity to judge for themselves based on the public hearings. In that sense, these hearings have a useful purpose, even if the Senate ultimately votes not to convict.

Further, the House’s determination of impeachment has a historical purpose even if the Senate refuses to convict. It will send a message to future presidents, warning of the consequences of behavior like Trump has displayed in his interactions with Russia and Ukraine, both during the campaign and his presidency. The judgment of history will ring forward to future generations that, however powerful the presidency has become in foreign relations, using the power to aid your election is simply not allowed.

As a Republican who has both testified in Senate hearings as a Republican witness many times and one who has worked for two Republican senators who have run for president, I hold hope for more dignified proceedings during the Senate trial.

If some Republican senators want to make the argument that Trump’s behavior was regrettable judgment but not quite to the level of impeachment, that’s at least a reasonable argument. It’s not one supported by the facts, but it’s better than the obsequious and blindly loyal repetition of White House talking points we’ve seen thus far from Rep. Jim Jordan.

Impeachment is both a legal and a political exercise. We’ve heard from the law professors and the politicians, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has determined that the case has been made to proceed with a Senate trial. These are all imperfect vessels for such a message, but it is clear. The faith of the founders and the judgment of history will shortly turn to senators and Chief Justice John Roberts as he presides over the Senate trial.

J.W. Verret (@JWVerret) is an associate professor at the George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School.


Source: Politics and the law collide in impeachment hearings



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