Sen. Bernie Sanders(I-VT) stood alone at Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate in opposing
the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, or USMCA, in part because it “it does not even have the phrase ‘climate change’ in it.”
“We could do much better than a Trump-led trade deal,” Sanders said. “Every major environmental organization has said no to this new trade agreement because it does not even have the phrase “climate change” in it. And given the fact that climate change is right now the greatest threat facing this planet, I will not vote for a trade agreement that does not incorporate very, very strong principles to significantly lower fossil fuel emissions in the world.”
The USMCA, which passed in the House 385-41 last month is expected to pass in the Senate as soon as this Thursday. House Democrats said they made “transformative changes” to the revised NAFTA deal in the areas of enforcement, workers, environment, and prescription drugs. The changes led to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) to support the deal.
Despite the AFL-CIO supporting the deal, Sanders noted other unions remain oppose.
“The AFL-CIO does. The Machinists Union does not. And every environmental organization in this country, including the Sunrise Organization, who are supporting my candidacy, opposes it,” Sanders said.
He added if the deal is passed, it “will set us back a number of years.”
“It is not so easy to put together new trade legislation,” Sanders said. “If this is passed, I think it will set us back a number of years. “We need to bring the stakeholders to the table, that — it is the family farmers here in Iowa and in Vermont and around the country. That is the environmental community. That is the workers. Bottom line here is, I am sick and tired of trade agreements negotiated by the CEOs of large corporations behind doors.
Other 2020 Democrat signaled support for the deal during the debate.
“This new trade deal is a modest improvement,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren(D-MA) said. “It will give some relief to our farmers. It will give some relief to our workers. I believe we accept that relief, we try to help the people who need help, and we get up the next day and fight for a better trade deal.”
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar said she backed the deal after the improvements were implemented.
“I support the USMCA, I am glad that these improvements were made that are supported by people like Richard Trumka and Sherrod Brown on labor and environment,” Klobuchar said.
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said he supports USMCA because it was “improved,” despite not being perfect.
“Yes, it has been improved, it is not perfect,” Buttigieg said. “But when you sit down with the people who are most impacted, they share just how much harm has been done to them by things like the trade war and just how much we can benefit, American consumers and workers and farmers, by making sure we have the right kind of labor and enforceability, as Democrats ensured we got in this USMCA.”