Sanders Opposes Trump’s USMCA: Full Statement

WASHINGTON, January 15—Today, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-V.t.) spoke in opposition to the United States, Mexico, Canada Free Trade Agreement (USMCA) in the U.S. Senate. The following are the Senator’s prepared floor remarks: 

“Mr. President, I rise in opposition to the NAFTA 2.0 trade agreement negotiated by Trump.

“This agreement is opposed by labor unions like the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers and the United Food and Commercial Workers.  It is opposed by the Sunrise Movement, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters and every major environmental group in America. 

“And it is opposed by the National Family Farm Coalition, which believes it will lock in rules that have devastated family farms and expanded corporate control over agriculture in North America. 

“I am proud to stand with these labor unions, environmental groups and family farmers against Trump’s NAFTA 2.0.

“I not only voted against NAFTA in 1993, but marched against it. In 2000, I voted against Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. I opposed the United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement and DR-CAFTA. And I helped lead the effort in Congress and with the grassroots across this country against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we need to fundamentally rewrite our disastrous trade agreements and create and protect good-paying American jobs, to improve the environment and combat climate change, and to stop the destructive race to the bottom.

“Unfortunately, this revised trade agreement with Mexico and Canada does none of those things.  It must be re-written.

“While NAFTA has led to the loss of nearly one million American jobs, this agreement does virtually nothing to stop the outsourcing of jobs to Mexico.  Under this agreement, large, multi-national corporations will still be able to shut down factories in America where workers are paid $28 an hour and move to Mexico where they are paid less than $2 an hour.

“When Trump was a candidate for president he promised that he would stop the outsourcing of American jobs to Mexico, China and other low-wage countries.  It hasn’t happened. 

“The truth is, since Trump took office, over 170,000 American jobs have been shipped overseas.  In 2018, we had a record-breaking $891 billion trade deficit in goods, a $419 billion trade deficit with China and an $81 billion trade deficit with Mexico. In 2018, for the first time in history, manufacturing workers began getting paid less than workers overall. Today, manufacturing workers get $28.15 an hour while the average worker makes 15 cents more.

“Last month alone, we lost 12,000 factory jobs and despite Trump’s rhetoric we are in a manufacturing recession.

“Mr. President, there is a reason why virtually every major environmental group is opposed to Trump’s NAFTA 2.0. This agreement does nothing to stop fossil fuel companies like Exxon Mobil and Chevron from dumping their waste and pollution into Mexico and destroying the environment.  In fact, it makes it easier for fossil fuel companies to bring tar sands oil into the United States through dangerous pipelines like the Keystone XL.  It does not even mention the words ‘climate change’—the most existential threat facing our planet.

“The deal preserves the disastrous Investor-State Dispute Settlement system for oil and gas companies, allowing them to continue to put corporate profits ahead of our air, water, climate and health.

“Mr. President, at this pivotal moment in American history, it is not good enough to tinker around the edges. The scientific community has been very clear – if we do not act boldly and aggressively to transform our economy to sustainable sources of power, there will be irreparable harm done to our planet.

“In my view, we need to re-write this trade agreement to stop the outsourcing of American jobs, to combat climate change, to protect the environment, and stop the destructive race to the bottom.

“We have got to stop large, profitable corporations that are outsourcing American jobs overseas from receiving lucrative federal contracts.

“And we have got to repeal Trump’s tax giveaway to the wealthy that have provided huge tax breaks to companies that shut down manufacturing plants in the U.S. and move abroad.

“Trade is a good thing, but it has got to be fair.

“Let us defeat NAFTA 2.0 and go back to the drawing board to protect American workers, to protect the environment and to lift the living standards of all workers.”