WASHINGTON, DC - House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) released the following statements marking the U.S.-Mexico-Canada (USMCA) Agreement's entry into force tomorrow, July 1, 2020:
'Congressional Democrats secured substantial improvements to the USMCA last year, but the American people will only benefit from that progress with rigorous enforcement of the deal's terms. The Trump Administration must enforce critical provisions - particularly those related to workers and the environment - to the fullest extent. The agreement's success truly hinges on the new labor enforcement mechanism that will raise standards for workers and help prevent egregious violations of human rights.
'Much responsibility lies with Mexico and Canada as well. I remain very concerned that Mexico is falling short of its commitments to implement the legislative reforms that are the foundation in Mexico for effectively protecting labor rights. The condition of workers south of our border affects the wellbeing of all North American workers. Mexico must do better, and the United States must ensure U.S. companies with operations in Mexico do not undercut workers' rights and the USMCA's successful implementation.
'Of course, the COVID-19 crisis presents a variety of unforeseen challenges as our nations work to implement the agreement. As we collectively grapple with this new reality, we must not cut corners and sacrifice our commitment to the standards and spirit of the deal. Indeed, the pandemic has helped expose the urgent need for better labor and environmental standards across North America that we sought to achieve in this agreement.
'I am proud of the new high water mark we established in the USMCA and am eager for workers and families across the continent to begin seeing their lives improve as a result of the significant changes secured by Congressional Democrats in the USMCA.'
Subcommittee Chairman Blumenauer:
'When Democrats regained the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives last year, we were given the hefty task of fixing a trade agreement that could not be enforced, lacked adequate labor and environment protections, and contained a sweetheart deal for the pharmaceutical industry. House Democrats reopened the labor and environment chapters to strengthen the rules, removed provisions that would have locked the U.S. into prescription high drug prices, and created a new rapid-response labor enforcement mechanism. Because of our efforts, for the first time, there is a petition process that allows for the investigation into labor rights violations at individual factories that can result in the blockage of goods from that factory into the United States. This is truly unprecedented.
'This agreement is the result of goodwill and collaboration and has great promise for getting U.S. trade policy back on track. This promise, however, will only be realized through vigorous enforcement. Enforcement is not only necessary for upholding the agreement between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, but also for our joint commitment to make trade work for all Americans.
'The broken promises of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) more than a quarter century ago have led to many Americans not believing that trade can work for them and their communities. Those who are skeptical of trade and those who are advocates for more international trade have a vested interest in our getting this right. If successful, the USMCA can be the jumping off point for new, stronger trade agreements. If, however, the USMCA is not enforced, there will justifiably be more cynicism around trade, making it nearly impossible to engage other counties in new trade arrangements.
'I am hopeful that we all, no matter our personal preferences on trade, can come together to enforce this agreement and make it work for all Americans. If we are successful, the collaboration and innovation brought to this process can be the starting point from which we can address the continued challenges we have in our global economy.'