Sen. Portman Lobbies For USMCA, But Sen. Brown Wants More Worker Protections | WOSU Radio

Sen. Portman Lobbies For USMCA, But Sen. Brown Wants More Worker Protections

Sep 12, 2019

With Congress back in session, Republicans say they are ready to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) says the trade deal negotiated by the Trump administration, intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), will help the American economy.

“USMCA is better for the ag community, better for our workers, better for industry, better for the auto industry,” Portman said. 

Portman says the new agreement will unify working standards for autoworkers in each of the three countries.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, a native of Ashtabula, Ohio, says he expects to reach a deal with House Democrats this month on modifications to the USMCA.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) introduced Lighthizer and supported his nomination. But Brown says the current deal isn’t strong enough at enforcing labor standards.

“To work, they’ve got to include amendments that we have talked to Lighthizer about for a year and a half, and insisted they be part of this,” Brown says. “This bill will not pass if it comes up now because it does not meet those standards. I want to support a NAFTA 2.0, but this has fallen far short of that.”

Brown also says the USMCA doesn’t stop jobs from being outsourced to other countries, which he says is the major factor for judging this bill.

Portman says he’s asked Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi to bring the bill to the floor for a vote.