December 19, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement today regarding House passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA):
“The USMCA I voted to support today is the product of a year of work by Congressional Democrats to put forward something to build on as we work to shift our trade agreements to prioritize workers and the environment.
“Democrats made positive steps, especially in regard to labor standards and enforcement, that can help us move towards a trading system that puts workers, labor rights, and fair economic policies first.
“I have long been critical of the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) program, which gives companies a private right of action to sue countries to settle business disputes but no such avenue for labor or environmental disputes. This agreement nearly eliminates ISDS, putting us on a path to prevent its inclusion in future trade agreements. In addition to strengthening labor standards, the USMCA also includes, for the first time, an enforcement mechanism specifically for labor and establishes an independent review body to ensure Mexico is implementing labor reforms and complying with obligations.
“Let me be clear, however, that USMCA is far from perfect. This agreement leaves a lot to be done on environmental and climate-related provisions. President Trump and Senate Republicans continue to ignore the threat of climate change against the urging of Congressional Democrats and the American people. A future Administration must prioritize strong climate change provisions in trade agreements that reflect the urgency of this worldwide crisis. It is unacceptable that the Trump Administration ignores the overwhelming evidence of climate change and refuses to take the necessary actions for the environment.
“As a lifelong resident of Washington State, I have seen firsthand the importance of trade for workers and the economy. I have also seen the impacts of job outsourcing and wage stagnation on middle class families. Trade agreements cannot be looked at in isolation. Fixing trade agreements alone will not address the income inequality and vanishing middle class that plagues workers and our economy. President Trump’s tax cuts have incentivized outsourcing and benefited corporations and the wealthy at the expense of workers and their families.
“We need to restructure our tax code, trade agreements, and public policies to reverse this growing problem, and I believe the USMCA is a step in the right direction.”