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JAYAPAL STATEMENT ON VOTING ‘NO’ ON USMCA TRADE DEAL

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, issued the following statement after voting against H.R. 54030, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) Implementation Act:

“After carefully considering the pros and cons of the USMCA over the past several days—and engaging in multiple conversations with the business, tech, labor, and environmental community in my district and at the national level—I voted no on USMCA today,” said Jayapal. “I want to be clear that there is no question that the USMCA is better for workers and families across our country than NAFTA. Thanks to the hard work of House Democrats and the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the leadership of Speaker Pelosi, and the powerful voice of the AFL-CIO and other key community allies, we were able to take what would have been a disastrous USMCA deal brought to us by the Trump Administration and negotiate a significantly better trade deal, so that standards and enforcement of labor rights have some recognition within the agreement itself. However, after examining the agreement from all sides, I do not believe that USMCA goes far enough.”

“Specific to Washington state, I am deeply concerned that jobs in the aerospace industry—critical to our state’s economy—have received insufficient protections. Several other large labor unions in the state have also articulated some significant concerns that this deal does not do enough to protect vulnerable and exploited workers and prevent outsourcing of jobs to places with lower labor standards. And every leading environmental organization has opposed the USMCA with force because it fails in all environmental priority areas. Climate change is the singular crisis of our time, and we cannot afford to kick the can down the road,” added Jayapal. “While I voted no on USMCA, I recognize how important trade is to my district, and I am grateful for the feedback and conversations I’ve had with constituents on this issue. I remain committed to pushing for trade policies that are fair and promote a healthy, safe and prosperous future for our communities.”

Jayapal also issued the following statement explaining her vote in greater detail.

“I have carefully considered the pros and cons of the USMCA over the past several days, engaging in multiple conversations with stakeholders in the business, tech, labor and environmental community in my district and at the national level. This has been a difficult decision to make. I am grateful to the many leaders who discussed their positions and the pros and cons of this agreement with me.  

There is no question that we need a new model for a trade agreement that can support American jobs, climate preservation and global business all at the same time. NAFTA was the epitome of the opposite kind of trade agreement. Since the original NAFTA agreement went into effect in 1994, it has had a devastating impact on Washington and our workers—killing 12,560 manufacturing jobs and leaving workers unemployed or forced to take significantly lower-paying jobs. Our state’s net agricultural exports have plummeted and our giant—and growing—agricultural trade deficit has squeezed farmers in Washington and put small farms out of business. And while rarely recognized, the disastrous effects of NAFTA have driven migration north from Mexico, as small Mexican farmers were driven out of business and forced to seek opportunities north of the border.

Thanks to the hard work of House Democrats and Speaker Pelosi, the AFL-CIO, and key communities allies, we were able to take what would have been a disastrous USMCA deal from the Trump Administration and negotiate a significantly better trade deal, so that standards and enforcement of labor rights are included in the agreement itself. In addition, thanks to extraordinary negotiating from Democratic members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, we got a clean sweep of wins to remove provisions from the Trump Administration’s proposal that would have allowed Big Pharma to make prescription drugs even more expensive for Americans. We also forced the Administration to add stronger labor and environmental protections and eliminate a provision that would have allowed wealthy investors to attack and strike down environmental protections. Let me be clear: Left to his own devices, Donald Trump would have pushed through a much worse trade deal for American workers and our planet.

However, after examining the agreement from all sides, I do not believe that USMCA goes far enough. Specific to Washington state, I am deeply concerned that jobs in the aerospace industry—critical to our state’s economy—have received insufficient protections. Several other large labor unions in the state have also articulated some significant concerns that this deal does not do enough to protect vulnerable and exploited workers and prevent outsourcing of jobs to places with lower labor standards. USMCA also relies on the Mexican government to strictly enforce labor standards, ensure strong Mexican unions, and not undercut American workers— without appropriate measures or assurances to make sure the Mexican government does the right thing.

USMCA also does not do nearly enough to address climate change or protect our precious natural resources. While there are some important provisions related to the environment, the Trump Administration’s failure to recognize the facts and scientific consensus on the urgency of addressing climate change prevented them from incorporating any real measures to protect our planet and people. Every leading environmental organization has opposed the USMCA with force because it fails in all environmental priority areas.  Climate change is the singular crisis of our time, and we cannot afford to kick the can down the road. Washington’s Seventh Congressional District has led on climate issues precisely because we have so many leading scientific and advocacy organizations that have prioritized climate change. 

I want to be clear that there is no question that USMCA is better than NAFTA for workers and families across our country. In listening to leading business voices from Washington’s Seventh Congressional district, I also am deeply aware that there will likely be benefits to the Port of Seattle and so many Washington businesses. I have listened to these perspectives very carefully and with an open mind. 

I had very much hoped to be able to vote yes on this trade deal. While I voted no on USMCA, I recognize how important trade is to my district, and I am grateful for the feedback and conversations I’ve had with constituents on this issue. I remain committed to pushing for trade policies that are fair and promote a healthy, safe and prosperous future for our communities.”

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