Washington D.C. – Rep. Kirkpatrick released the following statement after voting to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The new agreement includes significant improvements negotiated by House Democrats with respect to labor, the environment, access to medicines, and enforcement. The legislation passed on an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 385 to 41.
On December 10th, both parties and labor reached a deal with the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) on a series of transformative improvements to the Trump Administration’s proposed USMCA that will set a new floor for standards in future U.S. trade agreements. The overall enforcement mechanism for the agreement was weak because it preserved all the flaws of the old NAFTA. In addition, there were no specific mechanisms to make sure that the labor rules could not be ignored again.
Because of House Democrats, USTR agreed that the new NAFTA should set the highest standards for enforcement and enforceability in any U.S. trade agreement:
- A new labor enforcement mechanism that promotes American jobs, protects workers’ rights, and holds non-compliant actors accountable;
- A new environment customs verification mechanism to make sure that Mexico is not trading illegally taken fauna and flora.
- Enforcement: Fixing loopholes in the new NAFTA that allowed countries to avoid being held accountable and introducing new rules of evidence to make enforcement more effective and fair.
- Workers: Strengthening standards to make them enforceable; creating new mechanisms to monitor labor rule compliance in Mexico and to enforce the commitment that parties trade only in goods that comply with the agreement’s rules on workers; and establishing a new enforcement mechanism that will lead to penalties on imports produced at a facility where workers’ right to organize has been thwarted.
- Environment: Reinstating high-standard rules that had been watered down by the Trump Administration; creating new mechanisms to monitor environmental rule compliance in Mexico.
- Access to Medicines: Preserving Congress’s ability to legislate to bring down prescription drug prices by removing big giveaways to pharmaceutical companies and changing the rules to promote fair competition and patients’ access to affordable medicines.
“Representing a border district, I understand the direct and vital impacts a strong trade agreement has on Arizona and our local economy. I have always supported modernizing NAFTA and enhancing the agreement to reflect our 21st century economy,” said Rep. Kirkpatrick. “I am proud that we were able to pass this strong and bipartisan deal that prioritizes American workers and improves access to affordable prescription drugs,” said Rep. Kirkpatrick. “USMCA establishes some strong principles that I believe will strengthen our workforce and build on the relationship we have with on North American neighbors.”
Click here for a fact sheet from the Ways and Means Committee.
Click here for a detailed summary from the Ways and Means Committee.