Visclosky Statement on USMCA

Dec 19, 2019
Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Visclosky submitted the following statement into the Congressional Record during the House of Representatives consideration of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).  

“I rise today to oppose the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.  

“Throughout my entire career, I have heard the promises of free trade agreements, yet have seen the subsequent challenges faced by steelworkers and the American manufacturing industry.  

“Specifically, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was rationalized on the promise of creating good-paying American jobs.  Instead, this agreement contributed to the loss of over 700,000 American jobs through outsourcing and suppressed American wages.  NAFTA has also led to the degradation of our environment through the lack of strong environmental protections and the consequent increase of greenhouse gas emissions in North America. 

“While I recognize that the USMCA appears to be an improvement over NAFTA, I remain deeply skeptical that it does enough.  

“For example, the USMCA includes a provision for enforcing labor standards.  However, there is a lack of clarity on timelines for certain steps throughout the investigation process, which could delay enforcing penalties on violators of the agreement.  I also remain leery that our trading partners have not demonstrated the commitment, fortitude, or track record to faithfully execute the labor protections detailed in this agreement. 

“Additionally, the USMCA includes a provision to require 40 to 45 percent of the vehicles made in the United States, Mexico, and Canada to be made by workers who earn – on average – at least $16 per hour.  However, the calculation requirements for the average wage allows for the inclusion of wages related to research, development, and information technology employees, which could cause the continued suppression of wages for American manufacturing employees. 

“Further, in regard to environmental protections, the USMCA includes a provision that recognizes pollution as a threat to public health.  However, it does not create binding standards and omits essential limits on air, water, and land pollution, which could create more challenges for future generations. 

“Finally, I would emphasize that advancing the USMCA to the full House for a vote within a week of receiving the text circumvents Congress’ responsibility to the American people to thoroughly examine this agreement, which will have profound implications for our workers, our economy, and our environment.  I am especially disappointed that this process has not afforded all Members of Congress a real opportunity to debate, amend, or improve this text before final passage. 

“If we have learned anything from the negative impacts of NAFTA and other free trade agreements, let it be that all Americans and all American workers deserve thoughtful, secure, and truly enforceable trade agreements.”