Skip to main content

The Controversial Pivot

The U.S. Congress and North America

Edited by Robert A. Pastor and Rafael Fernandez de Castro

In 1994, two political events occurred that would have been inconceivable just five years before: the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was launched, and Republicans took control of the U.S. Congress for the first time in 40 years. NAFTA aimed to bind the three North American economies after more than a century in which Mexico and Canada had struggled to keep their distance from the United States. Ironically, at the very moment that Canada and Mexico risked a closer embrace, a new inward-looking U.S. Congress took office, less sensitive to neighbors or international obligations. Concerned Mexicans and Canadians asked: Was it possible to advance NAFTA’s goals if the U.S. Congress stepped on the brakes?

This book looks at the NAFTA integration process by focusing on the U.S. Congress. More independent and influential than the Canadian Parliament or Mexican legislature, the U.S. Congress seeks to shape the river banks within which North American integration runs its course, but often it just dams the river. The book presents the work of scholars from Mexico, Canada, and the United States who propose changes in congressional policymaking in order to facilitate a smoother and deeper process of integration within North America.

The chapter authors are I. M. Destler, Neil Nevitte, Kim Richard Nossal, Miguel Basañez, Norman J. Ornstein, and George W. Grayson.

Get daily updates from Brookings