Pascrell Votes Against NAFTA 2.0
Washington, D.C., December 17, 2019
Tags: Labor & Trade
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09), New Jersey’s only member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, today voted against H.R. 5430, implementing legislation altering the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the governments of the United States, Canada, and Mexico.
“By moving forward on approving a new NAFTA in a bum’s rush, the House is making clear that the fix was in from the start and is hastening the way for a White House victory party,” said Rep. Pascrell, one of Congress’s most vocal opponents of the destructive NAFTA agreement of 1994. “Everyone involved in this process, more or less, has worked hard for a positive outcome. And no one can question that we have made progress in this document, which is the direct result of us pushing so hard. It’s not good enough. The big questions on Mexican labor laws, enforcement mechanisms, American wages, and scope of environmental standards, among others, remain unanswered. With no mock markup, ignored process, limited consultations, and conflicting reports on text we are running blinder than a pony with horse-blinkers on.
“For 25 long years, NAFTA has been an albatross around the neck of American labor. Its impact on our manufacturers, on our jobs, and on our wages has been devastating. We have an opportunity to finally undo that destruction and I regret that today we have not achieved our goal and are leaving American workers holding the bag.”
Rep. Pascrell has been a leader in Congress on trade issues. Pascrell has been deeply involved in the NAFTA renegotiations, traveling to talks in both Montreal and Mexico City in 2018 and working with the U.S. Trade Representative to ensure the perspectives of American workers and businesses are heard and accounted for in any agreement.
Pascrell has repeatedly emphasized that any new NAFTA agreement must contain strong enforceable labor provisions that can be implemented and then monitored meaningfully, environmental standards that can lift all boats and block companies from dumping in waterways or polluting the air, and reforms to the investment chapter of the agreement to ensure public welfare measures and the rights of sovereign governments would not be unfairly undermined by international tribunals, among other areas.
In January 2018, Rep. Pascrell led 183 House Democrats urging U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to prioritize Mexican labor reforms in NAFTA renegotiations. In August 2018, Pascrell wrote to then-Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady (D-TX-08) calling on him to assemble the House Advisory Group on Negotiation (HAGON) to advise the Trump administration as it continued the NAFTA renegotiations. In November 2018, Pascrell and former Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI-09) wrote to the U.S. trade representative and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta highlighting anti-worker violence and intimidation in Mexico. In April 2019, Pascrell led 85 of his colleagues again calling on Ambassador Lighthizer to demand that Mexico pass meaningful labor reforms before consideration of any renegotiated NAFTA.