Ohio Democrats Negative on New NAFTA Deal Known as USMCA

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President Donald Trump’s Administration is expected to speed up the procedural steps necessary for a Congressional vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), media outlets report.

Trump should issue a “statement of administrative action” soon, Reuters reported.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that was “not a positive step,” Reuters said, adding she wanted more time for lawmakers to review the agreement.

The Republican National Committee has questioned why Democrats under the leadership of Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are holding up USMCA. Pelosi said Mexico must change its labor laws, while Schumer said there are “outstanding issues.”

Several Ohio Democrats have posed roadblocks as well.

In February, in response to Trump’s State of the Union mention of USMCA, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH-13) said:

“While I continue to be supportive of renegotiating NAFTA, what I have seen so far does not do enough to protect the hardworking men and women of my district.”

“For far too long, I have seen firsthand how unfair trade agreements have harmed our manufacturing industry in Ohio and across the United States. Just this week the GM plant in my district started its first round of layoffs. I join with my colleagues in urging that a new NAFTA deal must protect workers’ rights and freedoms, create strong environmental standards, include substantive provisions to end outsourcing incentives, strengthen enforcement mechanisms, and increase access to affordable prescription drugs.”

In December, presidential candidate U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) criticized USMCA, according to The Washington Times. Brown said, “The work is not done yet. I understand the president said it’s final. The president needs to talk to Congress on this. “Don’t just sign this away because this doesn’t live up to the promise that the president said.”

Last October, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09) said, “On first glance, it appears this Administration has made incremental progress on goals long championed to uplift North American workers devastated by the original agreement. However, the devil is in the details, the jury is out on this new deal. Trade with our closest neighbors is not simply a zero sum game.”

However, in February, Kaptur joined Ryan in attacking USMCA. She said, “For President Trump to declare victory on trade is dishonest and premature. “Since the President took office, thousands of manufacturing workers across the heartland, including in my northern Ohio district, have been idled or laid off from their jobs in important keystone industries such as auto and steel as a result of senseless tariffs, closed off markets, and bad trade deals like NAFTA, while trade deficits increase.”

In March, Kaptur called on Trump to reopen USMCA negotiations. She said it contained a “disastrous provision” that would lock in high prescription drug costs for Americans.

Democrats’ statements stand in contrast to U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), who earlier this month reiterated his support for USMCA, calling it an improvement over NAFTA. A transcript of Portman’s statements on USMCA are available here.

Yahoo Finance in March quoted Portman as saying Trump needed to handle the steel and aluminum tariffs with Mexico and Canada, but he believed USMCA could be approved.

U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH-08) told Fox Business News in March that USMCA is an improvement over NAFTA.

“CONGRESSMAN DAVIDSON: Look at the things that we’ve been doing which have been distinct, for example, we changed our regulatory environment and cut taxes, which sent strong pro-growth signals. What I hear about that causes some uncertainty is finalizing our trade deals. Virtually everyone I speak with says the USMCA is better than NAFTA. The USMCA is going to be great for our economy. We would like to get that locked-in and certain. We’re optimistic about the results with China, but it’s not done yet, so having certainty around that would be tremendous.

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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.
Background Photo “NAFTA Country Flags” by Keepscases. CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

 

 

 

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