Freshman House Democrats Send Letter to Lighthizer Demanding Changes to NAFTA Rewrite
In a letter sent today to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, 27 freshman House Democrats laid out their concerns about the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) and demanded that negotiations be re-opened so that changes could be made. The letter was led by Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09), a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04), a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus; and Congresswoman Susan Wild (PA-07), a member of the New Democrat Coalition.
“If Mr. Trump is unwilling to tackle the major flaws of what he has called ‘the worst trade deal in history,’ his trade deal won’t be any better,” Congressman Levin said. “To end the steady flow of U.S. jobs to Mexico, to prevent corporations from outsourcing pollution and to keep the price of prescription drugs from skyrocketing even higher, Ambassador Lighthizer must reopen the agreement.”
“The current version of President Trump’s USMCA requires several improvements—or it will repeat the flaws of the original 1994 NAFTA. All trade deals, including USMCA, must protect the rights of workers to organize, promote good wages and set high environmental standards. The trade proposal should also protect consumers from excessive increases in drug prices. Today, on behalf of working families everywhere, we are urging US Trade Representative Lighthizer to revise the proposal to address our concerns,” said Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García.
“I commend USTR Lighthizer for addressing a number of the problems with NAFTA,” Congresswoman Wild said. “However, Congress must ensure that its provisions adequately protect American workers and consumers. I am concerned about worker protections and the new pharmaceutical exclusivity provisions that hinder our ability to lower drug prices. We want to get to yes but improvements need to be made to fulfill our promise to American workers with a new deal.”
The letter is also supported by the AFL-CIO.
"I'm proud to support the Levin-Wild-Garcia letter to USTR,” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said. “This letter raises many of the concerns shared by the AFL-CIO. We remain committed to fixing NAFTA, but we are also clear--no vote until it is fixed."
Additional signers of the letter come from across the political spectrum and every region:
Jason Crow (CO-06), Madeleine Dean (PA-04), Jared Golden (ME-02), Deb Haaland (NM-01), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Katie Hill (CA-25), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Conor Lamb (PA-17), Elaine Luria (VA-02), Joseph D. Morelle (NY-25), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL-26), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Katie Porter (CA-45), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Max Rose (NY-11), Mary Gay Scanlon (PA-05), Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Lori Trahan (MA-03)
David Trone (MD-06), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-02)
The letter lays out the following demands:
- Stronger labor standards that disincentivize the practice of outsourcing jobs to Mexico, where corporations can currently violate international labor rights and pay workers unconscionably low wages;
- Elimination of new monopoly rights for pharmaceutical companies, which will lock in policies that keep U.S. drug prices outrageously high;
- Stronger environmental terms that prevent corporations from outsourcing air, water and climate pollution to Mexico;
- Elimination of terms that preserve Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) rights for U.S. oil and gas firms with contracts with Mexico’s Hydrocarbons Authority, which expose Mexican environmental laws to attack;
- Restoration of the Country of Origin (COOL) meat-labeling program passed by Congress and affirmed by U.S. courts.
Read the full text of the letter HERE.