WASHINGTON — A massive new trade deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act, or USMCA, just passed the House with major bipartisan support, with every Republican in California voting for the bill.
While many times the California Democrats unite on policy, several lawmakers from southern California voted against the measure, calling it a missed opportunity to include provisions on climate change.
Of the 41 lawmakers that voted against USMCA, 39 were Democrats, and of those, five were from California.
This includes Representative Barbara Lee, of Oakland, who said she hoped for more of a fight to get back into the Paris Climate Agreement. She said California leads on environmental issues and that her vote reflects the need to negotiate for more climate initiatives that will reduce greenhouse gases and emissions.
Representative Judy Chu, D-Pasadena, who helped negotiate USMCA on the Ways and Means Committee, said this version is far better than the initial NAFTA agreement and said it provides better labor enforcement in all countries. Chu said this allows for new laws that will give better protection to Mexican workers and enforces oversight to ensure Mexican workers can have independent unions.
“This is one thing for sure that the constituents in my district will be very, very happy about,” said Chu. “That that level of the playing field is enacted in this new USMCA.”
Chu said employees and families in her district are greatly impacted by the work in Mexico. But Lee said she’s disappointed in the outcome of the USMCA and voted against the measure Thursday.
“We have to go back to the drawing board I think,” said Lee. “And make sure that climate change all the huge environmental issues are addressed and unfortunately this bill did not do that.”
While there are disagreements, others who voted against USMCA, including Democratic Representative Ted Lieu, do admit there are good provisions, like labor, enforcement, and pharmaceutical provisions.
Now USMCA heads to the Senate where the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he has no intention of calling the bill until after the Senate Trial is over, a notion that Democrats who voted for and against USMCA are outraged about.
Lee said she hopes more negotiations will come out of the Senate where Democrats will push for more climate initiatives.