House Ways and Means Committee Democrats sent Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer a letter today outlining concerns in the proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement that they want addressed before considering whether to approve it.
The letter, signed by Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal, D-Mass., Trade Subcommittee Chairman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and other committee Democrats, focuses on labor and environmental issues.
Ways and Means is a critical committee for advancing the USMCA because trade agreements affect tariffs, which makes the trade agreement a revenue bill. All revenue bills are required to start in the House, and generally are advanced out of Ways and Means before they get to the floor.
The letter to Lighthizer detailed a long history going back to the NAFTA agreement 25 years ago. Democrats expressed concern about enforceability of the agreement, especially as it relates to environmental and labor commitments. The Democrats said there is a long record of non-enforcement over labor and environmental issues.
"Our questioning is compounded by the fact that the new agreement's mechanisms for resolving disputes carries over NAFTA's flawed procedures," the House Democrats wrote. "Those procedures are easily frustrated by a responding party that wishes, for whatever reason, not to be sued."
The letter added, "With the same procedures in place with the new Agreement, what reason do we have to believe that any disputes over broken promises in the labor, environment or any other chapter in the agreement will lead to recourse or remedy?
Jerry Hagstrom can be reached at email@example.com
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