October 23,2019

Press Contact:

Keith Chu (202) 224-4515

Wyden Statement on Senate Floor on NAFTA 2.0

As Prepared for Delivery

I rise to call for this administration to obtain the best possible update to NAFTA, and to ensure that Americans reap real benefits from renegotiating this trade deal. 

I understand several of my colleagues are urging for an immediate vote on the president’s new NAFTA. Setting aside the fact that there have not yet been the hearings or markups necessary to allow that to happen, it would be a major mistake for this administration to seek a vote on a trade deal until it is a good deal. 

While the new NAFTA includes some important improvements to the existing agreement, there is still work to be done to get the best deal for American workers and consumers. 

Updating NAFTA, for example, means confronting the areas where older trade agreements continually have fallen short. 

Fighting to protect labor rights and the interests of working families. Preventing a race to the bottom when it comes to the environment. Making sure there is vigorous enforcement of our trade agreements, so that other countries can’t treat those deals as an empty document that give them time and opportunities to rip off American jobs. 

I do have real concerns about current trade enforcement because the new NAFTA carries over the weak enforcement system of the old NAFTA. It’s too easy on trade cheats, and it’s not good enough for American workers – particularly on the issue of protecting working families and labor rights. 

Senator Brown and I have proposed several additional tools to address specific challenges in Mexico, and by all accounts there has been good progress on that front. Additionally, one of the bigger challenges that we must confront is identifying the hundreds of thousands of sham labor contracts in Mexico that have exploited workers there and harmed workers here in the United States. Mexico must remain on track to get those contracts renegotiated on behalf of the workers’ interests.

Now to my colleagues who say this deal must be passed in the name of certainty, I’d say this: During this overhaul, the original NAFTA remains in place. Workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses should not have to go to bed at night fearing that economic uncertainty will rob them of their livelihoods. The uncertainty only arises when the president acts out and makes impulsive threats regarding our trade relationships. When the president threatened new tariffs on Mexico this June over immigration policy, that creates far more uncertainty than taking the time necessary to get this deal right. 

American workers and farmers have already been hurt by the president’s impulses. More will get hurt if Trump’s threats and chaos cause the Congress to accept a bad deal on NAFTA. 

Passing a trade deal that would allow this president to unilaterally change trade rules and jerk around entire industries would be a substantial mistake that will produce more uncertainty. That’s not how you get to trade done right. Based on that, I have some real concerns about how the administration wants NAFTA 2.0 to be implemented. 

Madam President, I know a thing or two about passing trade agreements as the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee. The key to passing a successful trade deal is making sure both sides are working good faith to get the best deal for the American people.