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Larson Statement on USMCA

December 19, 2019
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Rep. John B. Larson (CT-01) released the following statement on the renegotiated United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA).

“The original USMCA negotiated by the Trump Administration fell way short of being a good deal for the American people. In particular, it failed to include adequate labor standards or enforcement, harmed Congress’s ability to lower drug prices, and contained harmful environmental provisions. It is because of the work of House Democrats that a number of key changes were made to USMCA to substantially improve the deal.

“This is not a perfect agreement. More must be done – particularly on climate – but it is an improvement over the current NAFTA and over the original agreement negotiated by the Trump Administration. It makes substantial progress in leveling the playing field for American workers – including the strongest labor enforcement mechanism we’ve had in any trade agreement. In the words of AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka, this is now ‘an agreement that working people can proudly support.’ I voted for this agreement because on the whole, it is a positive outcome for U.S. workers, and it sets a new floor for labor standards in future trade agreements.

“I commend Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal for their skillful negotiations. The key improvements achieved by House Democrats came about because of their leadership. Rep. Rosa DeLauro in particular deserves credit for getting the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to agree to strong and enforceable labor standards. I thank Richard Trumka for working hand in glove with House Democrats to achieve these wins for working Americans.

“House Democrats improved the USMCA in a number of key areas. We removed a harmful provision that would have prevented Congress from being able to act to lower prescription drug prices. We added strong monitoring and enforcement of labor violations, including on-the-ground labor personnel in Mexico, and key benchmarks to ensure Mexico implements its labor reforms. We ensured a new labor-specific enforcement mechanism is included that covers all manufactured goods, provides for facility-level inspections, requirements for independent verification, and penalties on goods and services that aren’t in compliance. We also removed harmful language that has prevented the enforcement of past trade agreements.

“I am disappointed this agreement does not go further on the environment and especially addressing climate change. The reality is that we were negotiating with an Administration that doesn’t believe in science and a Senate majority that does not prioritize the environment.

“While these are not the environmental provisions I would have written into an agreement, there are tangible areas of improvement. Unlike the original NAFTA, for the first time, USMCA includes environmental rules, monitoring, and enforcement mechanisms within the agreement. It includes a commitment for the parties to adopt some of our most critical international environmental agreements (multilateral environmental agreements). It allows the parties to tackle some of the most potent greenhouse gases through the Montreal Protocol. It creates an interagency task force to spearhead environmental monitoring efforts, including the deployment of environmental monitoring personnel in Mexico. It has customs verification measures to prevent the importation of illegally taken flora and fauna. We removed language from the original agreement that would have prevented the enforcement of environmental violations. Critically, we secured more than $600 million in dedicated funding to address border pollution and other environmental infrastructure projects.

“I want to commend the tireless work of Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, who was my partner in the Working Group on the environment and was instrumental in securing these key improvements over the Trump Administration’s original agreement. This is a better agreement because of her efforts along with the Working Group as a whole.

“I want to commend the environmental community for lending their expertise along the way during these negotiations. In particular, the Connecticut Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Connecticut Fair Trade Coalition have been steadfast advocates for the environment and provided invaluable input throughout this process. The work doesn’t end here. We have to fight to rejoin the Paris Accords, to enact historic investments in clean energy, and we have to implement a carbon tax.”

More on the improvements made by House Democrats can be found here.