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The Senate overwhelmingly passed President Trump’s proposed replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Thursday, sending the deal to the president’s desk for his approval.
Passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) represents a rare moment of bipartisanship in a bitterly divided Congress. The deal cleared the Senate by a vote of 89 to 10 on Thursday, close to a month after passing the House by a vote of 385-41.
Republicans - Trump - Pillar - Agenda - Preferences
Republicans were eager to help Trump accomplish a major pillar of his economic agenda despite their preferences for a deal with looser restrictions. Democrats, who broadly shared Trump’s scorn for NAFTA, were eager to revise the deal to enhance labor standard enforcement and scrap protections for high-cost pharmaceuticals.
Even so, nine Democrats opposed the USMCA largely due to environmental concerns, while one Republican rejected the agreement over concerns it would burden international trade.
Toomey - Republican - USMCA - Importance - President
Toomey was the sole Republican to vote against the USMCA despite its importance to the president’s agenda and Trump’s reliance on Pennsylvania in the upcoming November election.
A staunch conservative and opponent of Trump’s trade agenda, Toomey argued that provisions meant to boost wages in Mexico and raise the tariff-free threshold for autos would spike prices for American consumers.
Modernizations - Market - Access - Improvements - Pennsylvania
“Outside of a few necessary modernizations and modest market access improvements for Pennsylvania's dairy farmers, USMCA is a step backwards and I could not support its passage,” Toomey said in a Thursday statement.
Sanders, a fierce critic of trade deals, was the sole 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to oppose the USMCA. While the White House won over some trade hawks with stronger environmental standards, Sanders said the deal fell short of the transformational change needed to protect American workers.
Trade - Agreements - Create - Jobs - Sanders
“We need to fundamentally rewrite our disastrous trade agreements and create and protect good-paying American jobs,” Sanders said Wednesday in remarks on the Senate floor.
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