Democrat Leaders: U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Deal Needs Enforcement Language to Protect Environment

By Kharen Martinez Murcia | November 21, 2019 | 10:00am EST
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) -- While Republicans question why the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal (USMCA) has not yet passed in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)  and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that to approve the agreement they first want to make sure that it has “enforcement language” to protect labor and the environment. 

“If you have a document and it is not enforceable,” Hoyer said on Tuesday, “it may be wonderful words, wonderful vision, but if you can’t enforce it, it really doesn’t mean much.”

“We in the [House] chamber agree on that and Mr. Neal [Richard Neal] believes we are getting closer to resolving that and getting enforcement language in the agreement.”  Rep. Neal (D-Mass.) is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

US Representatives Kevin Brady (R), Dustin Johnson (2nd R), Scott DesJarlais (C), Jodey Arrington (2nd L) and Jim Hadgehorn (L) take part in a rally for the passage of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) near the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 12, 2019. (Photo by Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images)
US Representatives Kevin Brady (R), Dustin Johnson (2nd R), Scott DesJarlais (C), Jodey Arrington (2nd L) and Jim Hadgehorn (L) take part in a rally for the passage of the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) near the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on September 12, 2019. (Photo by Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images)

The trade deal, which has been signed by the president and the leaders of Mexico and Canada, must pass the House and the Senate to become permanent.

Speaker has said on many occasions that she supports the USMCA. During a Nov. 19 press conference, she said that she wants to use the agreement as a template for future trade negotiations and to have the correct enforcement language. 

“What we will have to do is to have the implementing language, we have an idea of what that would be, so I’d like to see us get it done by the end of the year,” she said.  “I don’t imagine that it would take that long.” 

However, other Democratic members, such as Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clarke (D-Mass.) said the delay in passage is due to their desire to ensure protections for workers and the environment. 

“We are partners and our interests are so aligned because at the base of this entire agreement are American workers and how we have a new trade agreement that protects them, that increases jobs, and that makes sure that we are also protecting the environment,” said Clarke at the Capitol on Tuesday.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the USMCA has an entire chapter dedicated to environmental protections in the trade deal. 

“The environmental chapter includes the most comprehensive set of enforceable environmental obligations of any previous United States agreement,” the OTR said. “Including obligations to combat trafficking in wildlife, timber, and fish; to strengthen law enforcement networks to stem such trafficking, and to address pressing environmental issues such as air quality and marine litter.” 

During a Cabinet meeting on Nov. 19, President Donald Trump said Speaker Pelosi is “incompetent” for not passing the trade deal, and that Mexico and Canada are questioning why the deal has not yet been put to a vote. 


“We have to get USMCA signed,” said Trump. “Nancy Pelosi can't get it off her desk. Just can't do it. … I think the woman is grossly incompetent. And we're having a problem because Mexico and Canada are calling, saying what's going on, and it's sitting on her desk. She doesn't need the Democrats, because the Democrats are going to vote for it. All she has to do is put it up for a vote.”

“The woman is grossly incompetent,” he said.  “All she wants to do is focus on impeachment, which is just a little pipe dream she's got.”

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