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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders admitted Thursday that President Donald Trump’s proposed replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement is an “improvement” over the current situation, but still pledged not to support it.
Sanders’ comments came during the Democratic presidential debate in Los Angeles.
The Vermont senator noted that he voted against NAFTA, a deal Trump opposed and which the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement would replace.
Sanders said he does not think the USMCA would be a “great job creator.”
“This is a modest improvement over what we have right now. It would allow, hopefully, Mexican workers to organize into unions,” Sanders said.
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“But at the end of the day, in my view, it is not going to stop outsourcing. It is not going to stop corporations from moving to Mexico where manufacturing workers make less than $2 an hour.”
“What we need is a trade policy that stands up for workers, stands up for farmers and by the way, the word ‘climate change,’ to the best of my knowledge, is not discussed in this new NAFTA agreement at all.”
“So no, I will not be voting for this agreement, although it makes some modest improvements,” he concluded.
Bernie Sanders says he’ll vote against USMCA — the new trade deal passed by the House today: “It is not going to stop outsourcing. It is not going to stop corporations from moving to Mexico…the word “climate change”…is not discussed in this new NAFTA agreement at all.” pic.twitter.com/yql20E46A4
— Axios (@axios) December 20, 2019
The House voted Thursday, one day after it impeached Trump, to approve the USMCA.
“The trade pact is a revamped version of the 25-year-old North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA), which encouraged trade among the three countries,” ABC News reported.
“President Donald Trump, though, blamed it for shipping manufacturing jobs to Mexico, where wages are lower, and promised voters a deal that would create a more even playing field,” the outlet added.
Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has praised the agreement.
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“This deal is much better than the original NAFTA — and infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration,” the California Democrat said this week.
Sanders, for his part, has opposed the USMCA for months.
“In my view, a re-negotiated NAFTA must stop the outsourcing of U.S. jobs, end the destructive race to the bottom, protect the environment, and lower the outrageously high price of prescription drugs,” he said in November 2018, according to The Hill.
The USMCA “does not meet these standards,” Sanders said at the time.
The act must be approved by legislatures in all of the countries it involves, and NAFTA will remain in place until then.
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