The wheels on the long-awaited facelift of North America’s trade have finally begun to spin. On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted 385-41 to approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
The formal Congressional agreement on the deal was reached on December 10.
The USMCA has been in the works for over a year as a revision to the longstanding North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Both sides largely celebrated the passage.
Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) — who has been leading the effort among Democrats — called it a “defining moment for our nation.” He further added, “This agreement will increase market access for U.S. farmers, strengthen intellectual property rights, provide strong labor and environment obligations, and create thousands of American jobs.”
On the other side of the aisle, retiring Congressman Bill Flores (R-TX-17) stated, “After more than a year of advocating for this important trade deal, we are finally one-step closer to modernizing and rebalancing trade relationships with our most important export markets – Mexico and Canada.”
Houston congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX-07) said of the deal, “The USMCA includes many significant upgrades to the framework for trade, especially within the energy industry. This agreement codifies a new zero-tariff policy, further encouraging the energy exports across North America for years to come.”
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX-02) supports the bill but criticized the removal of an intellectual property protection provision. He stated, “This provision, included in the original version of USMCA, would ensure that Canada and Mexico wait ten years before copying our American-made drugs.”
Crenshaw added, “[W]hen Canada and Mexico are allowed to copy & manufacture our new drugs, they no longer have to buy from the American company that spent billions in research and development. This increases prices for Americans because companies still have to make up their costs.”
The agreement will now move to the Senate in the new year for debate, where Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has expressed some concerns over carve-outs for “Big Tech” that could eventually run afoul of U.S. statute. Should the agreement pass the Senate, it would move to President Trump for a signature, officially replacing the 26-year-old NAFTA.
Every Texas member voted for the measure.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.