WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after voting for the revised U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) trade agreement in the Senate Environment and Public Works and Senate Budget Committees this morning:
“I come from a blue collar family, and I still live in the same blue collar community I grew up in. I firmly believe that if we don’t make things in America, we won’t have a middle class in America.
“For more than two decades, NAFTA has been a disaster for American manufacturing and American workers. NAFTA made big corporations richer while working families and their communities paid the price. Thousands of factories and a million jobs were sacrificed to outsourcing, and our manufacturing base has been hollowed out.
“The NAFTA 2.0 that President Trump signed kept all of those problems while also creating a new, egregious loophole for Big Pharma, allowing drug companies to continue gouging Americans and expand their bad practices to Mexico and Canada.
“Thanks, however, to the fight from congressional Democrats, the labor movement, and all those who insisted on holding any new deal to higher standards, the revised version we are voting on represents a real improvement for American workers and eliminates the Pharma giveaway.
“I am voting for this deal because it is an improvement over current NAFTA when it comes to strong, enforceable labor standards, but make no mistake: This pact is still built on a flawed foundation, and nobody should mistake it as a model for future trade deals. In particular, it is unacceptable that we continue to negotiate trade deals that ignore the environmental and economic disaster of the climate crisis and that provide special, advantageous procedures for oil and gas corporations.
“The bottom line, though, is that workers need relief from NAFTA as soon as possible. This agreement may only be a modest improvement, but it’s an improvement our workers deserve. Today, I voted for this revised agreement to get those improvements in place as soon as possible, while we continue to work towards the long-term goal of far better trade agreements that do much better for both our workers and the environment.”
Merkley has long been a leader in calling out unfair trade agreements and their negative impacts on American workers. He is the author of the Level the Playing Field in Global Trade Act, legislation that would treat substandard labor and environmental standards as unfair international trade subsidies and empower the U.S. to fight back against these unfair trade practices that have undercut American workers.
Merkley will also vote on the pact as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday morning.