Senate Panel Approves USMCA, Moving It One Step Closer to Ratification

January 8, 2020 by Dan McCue
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) speaks at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. on September 27, 2018. (Tom Williams/Pool/Sipa USA/TNS)

WASHINGTON – The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday gave its approval to the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, moving it a step closer to ratification.

The 25-3 vote by the committee sent the trade deal, also known simply as USMCA, to the full Senate.

The House approved the agreement in a bipartisan vote.

During the 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump described the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA, as a killer of American jobs and vowed to repeal and replace it.

Among other things, the new deal includes enhanced protections for auto industry workers, updated digital trade rules, and increased access for U.S. farmers to the Canadian dairy market.

“USMCA will bring much needed certainty and real benefits to America’s farmers, workers and businesses,” Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Tuesday at the start of the bill markup.

“In terms of competition, the USMCA boosts American businesses by modernizing our current trade agreement, which predated internet commerce, to protect the flow of digital trade and to better safeguard intellectual property,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H. “The agreement also cuts red tape for small exporters by allowing electronic filing of customs forms, an important provision for a small business state like New Hampshire.”

“In addition…the deal cuts costs for small businesses by increasing the share of shipments to Canada and Mexico with duty-free status. Further, the USMCA removes long-standing trade barriers that have prevented dairy farmers in New Hampshire and other states from accessing the Canadian market,” she said.

However, before reaching this point, the agreement was substantially amended by House Democrats to improve enforcement of labor and environmental standards.

That allowed most Democrats in Congress to support the agreement, and helped sway doubters like Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee.

On Tuesday, Wyden described the last few years as a time of “one trade gut punch after another,” referring to President Donald Trump’s trade war with China.

By contrast, he said, the new USMCA would provide “real certainty and predictability to Americans who want to grow things here, who want to make things here … and who want to ship those products around the world.”

In a tweet before the vote he specifically acknowledged the efforts of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, saying the changes she was able to secure put “American workers first” while implementing “real trade enforcement.”

Like Wyden, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, had been a USMCA skeptic, but ultimately voted in favor of it. 

Brown said, “We know why corporations move jobs overseas – they can pay lower wages and exploit workers.

“The only way to stop that race to the bottom is by raising labor standards in every country we trade with. That’s why Ranking Member Wyden and I authored a completely new way of holding corporations accountable, our Brown-Wyden worker protection provision,” he said. “Brown-Wyden is the first improvement to enforcing the labor standards in our trade agreements since we’ve been negotiating them.

“We still have more work to do to make our trade agreements more pro-worker, but I am voting ‘yes’ for the first time on a trade agreement because, by including Brown-Wyden, Democrats have made this agreement much more pro-worker and set an important precedent that Brown-Wyden must be included in every future trade agreement,” he said.

Three Senate Finance Committee members voted against the deal Tuesday. They were Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Bill Cassidy, R-La.


Notice: Undefined variable: pc_ID in /var/www/html/thewellnews/wp-content/themes/twentynineteen-child/template-parts/content/content-single.php on line 263


Notice: Undefined variable: primary_cat in /var/www/html/thewellnews/wp-content/themes/twentynineteen-child/template-parts/content/content-single.php on line 268

Rep. Neal Eyes Massive Coronavirus Relief, Climate and Infrastructure Package
Congress
Rep. Neal Eyes Massive Coronavirus Relief, Climate and Infrastructure Package

WASHINGTON — House Ways and Means Chairman Richard E. Neal's attitude toward legislating under a Democratic-led White House might aptly be described as "never let a crisis go to waste." The Massachusetts Democrat wants to take a page from his party's 2009 playbook, when the Obama administration took office amid the wreckage of... Read More

Opening of 117th Congress Will be Different Due to Pandemic
Congress
Opening of 117th Congress Will be Different Due to Pandemic

WASHINGTON — When the 117th Congress convenes in January, COVID-19 precautions will prevent the 435 House members from gathering in the chamber together, so opening day festivities of swearing in members and electing the speaker will look a little different. House leaders have begun discussing how to carry out... Read More

Mnuchin to Put $455 Billion in Funds Out of Yellen's Easy Reach
Economy
Mnuchin to Put $455 Billion in Funds Out of Yellen's Easy Reach

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will put $455 billion in unspent Cares Act funding into an account that his presumed successor, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, will need authorization from Congress to use. Mnuchin plans to place the money into the agency's General Fund, a Treasury Department spokesperson said Tuesday. That fund... Read More

Lawmakers a Step Closer to Averting Dec. 11 Government Shutdown
Congress
Lawmakers a Step Closer to Averting Dec. 11 Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON — Top appropriators reached bipartisan agreement Tuesday on a framework for an omnibus spending package that would avoid a partial government shutdown next month. The compromise forged between the leaders of the House and Senate Appropriations committees sets spending allocations for the dozen bills that fund federal agencies... Read More

Trump Gives Biden Access to Daily Intelligence Briefings
White House
Trump Gives Biden Access to Daily Intelligence Briefings

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden will begin to get the nation's most classified intelligence after the White House signed off Tuesday on providing him the Presidential Daily Briefing as the transition moves forward. The incoming president getting access to the top-secret briefing is the most high-profile part of the transition and... Read More

Stabenow Says Smaller Coronavirus Relief Bill Better Than Nothing
Economy
Stabenow Says Smaller Coronavirus Relief Bill Better Than Nothing

WASHINGTON — A top Senate Democrat said Tuesday that she's engaged in bipartisan discussions on COVID-19 aid and urged quick action even if that means "a short-term package for the next few months." "We need to act," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D- Mich., the fourth-ranking Democrat in that chamber... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top