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Bonamici Statement on USMCA

December 18, 2019
Press Release
Trade Agreement Backed by Labor; Contains Important Gains for Enforcement, Prescription Drugs, and the Environment

WASHINGTON, D.C. [12/18/19]- Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici released the following statement on the negotiated US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement. Speaker Pelosi appointed Bonamici to the USMCA Working Group, which was responsible for negotiating with the Administration on behalf of the Democratic Caucus to win improvements in the areas of labor, environment, enforcement, and drug pricing.

 

“For the past six months, I have worked tirelessly as a member of a nine-person Working Group to negotiate a United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement that is a marked improvement over both NAFTA and the original proposed agreement the Trump Administration presented to Congress. Under the direction of Speaker Pelosi, we had many in-person meetings and conversations in which we pressed the Administration to make critical improvements in the areas of labor, environment, access to medicines, and enforcement. After a protracted battle with the Administration, we secured what I am confident will be meaningful improvements in all four areas.

 

“NAFTA went into effect in 1994. In the years that followed, we saw outsourcing of jobs to Mexico that undermined the American workforce and did not raise wages or working conditions for Mexican workers. The renegotiated USMCA strengthens the labor rules so it will be easier to prove violations. It also includes robust monitoring systems and strong enforcement tools, including United States attachés on the ground in Mexico to conduct inspections and ensure compliance with the agreement. Throughout this negotiation we worked closely with the labor movement, and because of our joint efforts, the deal is strong enough to have earned the support of the AFL-CIO.

 

“The USMCA that the Trump Administration presented to Congress included harmful provisions that would have locked in high drug prices and made it more difficult for patients to access affordable generic drugs. After months of tough negotiations with the Administration, we were able to remove those sections of the agreement. The updated USMCA no longer requires the three countries to provide ten years of competition-free protection for biologics, stops patent evergreening that keeps generics off the market, removes a requirement allowing for an additional period of exclusivity for certain drugs, and makes additional changes to protect patients. This was a big win for patients, and this agreement is another important step to making sure that we are doing all we can to make medication affordable and accessible.

 

“Throughout this negotiation, my colleagues and I fought hard to improve the environment provisions in the agreement and worked to strengthen rules and increase monitoring and enforcement tools. Since coming to Congress I have devoted myself to protecting the environment and combatting climate change. As the co-chair of the House Oceans Caucus and Congressional Estuary Caucus, and a member of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis and the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, I have repeatedly fought to advance environmental protections and push back against an Administration that refuses to acknowledge the existence much less the urgency of the climate crisis. Even with the Administration’s intransigence, the final deal includes improved environmental rules within the actual agreement. It also creates a customs verification process to combat illegally taken flora and fauna, supplies enhanced environmental infrastructure, provides a path to addressing HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) emissions, includes protections against overfishing, makes it easier to prove violations of the environment provisions, and secures more than $600 million in resources to implement the environment provisions and address pollution and marine debris. Despite our ongoing insistence throughout the negotiations, the Trump Administration refused to include the Paris Climate Accord among the list of the USMCA’s multilateral environment agreements (MEAs) that must be adopted, implemented, and maintained. We did, however, include a provision that allows the parties to add other environmental and conservation agreements to the list of covered MEAs.

 

“This agreement is a vast improvement over both NAFTA and what the Administration first sent to Congress. Recently I stood with Speaker Pelosi and several colleagues at the UN’s Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 25) to show the world that the House of Representatives passed the Climate Action Now Act and is willing to uphold the U.S. commitments under the Paris Agreement.  Regardless of the Trump Administration’s climate denial, I recognize the gravity of the crisis our planet is facing and will continue to do all I can to pass and implement bold policies to combat climate change. The Administration’s failure to act on climate and ongoing denial of science poses a grave threat to our economy, way of life, and ultimately our planet. 

 

“I am confident in the critical improvements over both NAFTA and the USMCA agreement as first presented to Congress last year. This agreement is better for Oregonians, workers, and the environment than the NAFTA rules that are currently in place. I will support the improved USMCA when it comes to the House floor for a vote.”