Senate Panel Approves USMCA, Moving It One Step Closer to Ratification
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.
In The News
In The News
WASHINGTON -- A former Georgetown University tennis coach plans to plead guilty to participating in the college admissions cheating scandal... Read More
WASHINGTON -- A former Georgetown University tennis coach plans to plead guilty to participating in the college admissions cheating scandal known as Varsity Blues. Gordon Ernst is admitting to accepting about $2.7 million in bribes to help children of wealthy families gain admission to the elite... Read More
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A single line in Netflix sensation “The Queen’s Gambit,” which is expected to rake in the... Read More
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - A single line in Netflix sensation “The Queen’s Gambit,” which is expected to rake in the statues at this weekend’s 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards, could wind up costing the streaming giant a cool $5 million thanks to a defamation lawsuit filed Thursday... Read More
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has expanded litigation efforts against a swath of school districts that defied... Read More
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has expanded litigation efforts against a swath of school districts that defied Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on mask mandates. Paxton announced on Tuesday his office had filed lawsuits against the Paris, Diboll, Honey Grove, La Vega, Longview, Lufkin,... Read More
WASHINGTON- The economic impact of the switch to clean energy may have the chance to make the transition a truly... Read More
WASHINGTON- The economic impact of the switch to clean energy may have the chance to make the transition a truly bipartisan issue, according to Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo. During an event Tuesday hosted by the Public Policy Institute on expanding power line capacity to enable renewable... Read More
WASHINGTON -- A variety of federal departments will come together Friday to discuss the future of broadband internet connectivity for... Read More
WASHINGTON -- A variety of federal departments will come together Friday to discuss the future of broadband internet connectivity for Native American communities. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Summit, led in part by a coalition of tribal governments, organizers and seven different federal departments, will feature a... Read More
WASHINGTON — When he’s not feeding the world, Chef José Andrés is planning how to feed the world… better. The... Read More
WASHINGTON — When he’s not feeding the world, Chef José Andrés is planning how to feed the world… better. The humanitarian chef recently co-chaired a Food and Nutrition Security Task Force of the Bipartisan Policy Center with the aim of Improving Food and Nutrition Security During... Read More