Cicilline Statement on USMCA: “Modest improvement on NAFTA, but not the cure-all Trump says"

Dec 19, 2019

“More than most other states, Rhode Islanders understand the devastating impact that bad trade deals have had on working men and women. In the 25 years since NAFTA was signed, we’ve lost nearly 83,000 manufacturing jobs. While corporations and CEOs have lined their pockets by shipping American jobs to Mexico, many Rhode Island workers have struggled just to make ends meet because of NAFTA.”


“To be clear, the USMCA is not the cure-all that President Trump promises. Approving this agreement will not suddenly bring back the jobs we have already lost to Mexico. Nor will it mean ensuring a living wage, access to health care, and retirement security for every working person. We must continue those fights once this agreement passes the Senate.”


“The USMCA is, however, an improvement – albeit a modest one – over the current NAFTA framework. That’s in large part thanks to the hard work of leaders like Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren, unions, and consumer groups over the past year. Thanks to them, this agreement eliminates giveaways to big pharmaceutical companies that the President wanted to include. It also has stronger labor and environmental protections than the ones the Trump administration first proposed. And it guts the Investor-State Dispute Settlement that gave corporations a free pass to extract hundreds of millions of dollars from American taxpayers.”


“Governing means making tough decisions. But the choice before us today was very simple. It was a choice between whether to continue under the deeply-flawed NAFTA agreement, or to finally make some improvements to a bad trade deal that Congress never should have approved a quarter century ago.”


“For me, that is an easy choice. My first priority has always been to advance the cause of Rhode Island’s working families, to make sure that their voices are heard in Congress. This agreement is an improvement for working people – even if it does not go as far as I would want.”