Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) a member of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee and Co-Chair of the House Northern Border Caucus, released the statement below following approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) by the House of Representatives:
“Western New York endured decades of negative economic decline and the loss of 30 thousand jobs in our manufacturing sector as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The impact of NAFTA cut deep – affecting families, neighborhoods and bruising our community confidence for years. So, if Western New Yorkers know anything about trade agreements, it is that words on paper are not meaningful unless they are followed up by strong and sustained action.
“I respect the hard work my colleagues and organized labor have undertaken, drastically improving the language President Trump negotiated to actually protect workers and their jobs – including in the treaty text tools aimed at holding Mexico accountable for its poor record on worker rights all toward the goal of real, enforceable measures to shield American workers and jobs.
“This agreement is far from perfect. I remain skeptical of Mexico’s ability to live up to its end of the bargain. But it does represent an opportunity, where we can begin to push for strong and sustained progress for trade on this continent. While it is a step in the right direction, it alone will not bring back thousands of American manufacturing jobs as President Trump claims. We should also be pursuing policies domestically that focus on economic growth for the American middle class, like infrastructure investment. Yet, the economic future of Western New York is increasingly tied to that of Southern Ontario. Protecting the free movement of people and goods across our border with Canada is critical. As a result, in good faith, I am supporting the USMCA.”
House Democrats were successful in making numerous improvements to the President’s original agreement, including:
- Fixing loopholes that allowed countries to avoid being held accountable and creates new rules to provide for enforcement.
- Strengthening labor standards and worker rights.
- Allowing for better monitoring of environmental compliance.
- Removing giveaways to big pharma to allow for legislation creating greater access to affordable prescription drugs.
Higgins also welcomed the inclusion of a sunset provision which allows for formal review and reconsideration of the USMCA agreement after 6 years.
The revised USMCA adopted by the House is supported by:
- The AFL-CIO nationally and the Western New York Area Labor Federation. AFL-CIO President Trumpka said, “The revised USMCA includes a first-of-its-kind facility-specific enforcement mechanism with rapid timelines and meaningful penalties.”
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership in Western New York. The Partnership notes that Canada is New York exports $22.7 billion worth of goods and services to Canada and Mexico.
- Ford says USMCA “will secure America’s North American supply lines and give certainty to America’s economy – making both more globally competitive” and General Motors called the deal, “vital to the success of the North American auto industry.”
- The International Dairy Foods Association and Northeast Dairy Farmer’s Cooperative for provisions that level the playing field relative to US/Canada milk pricing, benefiting Upstate Niagara Cooperative in WNY.
The improved trade deal will now move to the Senate for consideration and approval. The agreement will go into effect three months after all three countries ratify the deal. Mexico has already approved the revised deal.