Nevada delegation on NAFTA rethink: Happy happy joy joy

nafta rethink
(Official White House photo)
nafta rethink
(Official White House photo)

A day after voting to impeach the president, the U.S. House came together to overwhelmingly pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

The measure easily passed the House Thursday, 385 to 41, with bipartisan support, including every member of the House from Nevada.

If ratified by the Senate, the deal would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which took effect a quarter century ago. Proponents say the “new NAFTA” will grow the economy, support workers, protect the environment and create a more level playing field between the United States and Mexico and Canada. 

Democrats had regarded the Trump administration’s initial version of the deal as a non-starter because of language that they said would allow violations of labor and environmental standards to go unchecked and lead to higher prescription drug prices. 

“The Trump Administration’s original proposal would have undermined workers and locked in sky high drug prices,” said Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, who described the new agreement as “an improvement over NAFTA, but … far from perfect.”

“As revised, USMCA will boost international travel and tourism to Las Vegas and give us new tools to enforce stronger labor standards among our trading partners. Going forward, when entering into trade agreements, we must do even more to put working people and the planet first,” Titus said.

The agreement “includes high-standard rules that protect our environment and removes Trump administration provisions that would have locked in high prescription drug prices here at home,” said Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford.

Democratic Rep. Susie Lee said the deal “shows the American people that Congress and the White House can come together across party lines to get things done.”

Mark Amodei, Nevada’s only Republican in the House, said he was “pleased to finally see the USMCA pass the House.”

“By dedicating an entire chapter to digital trade, this legislation will significantly maximize our potential to trade and invest in the digital age,” Amodei said.

“I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to act swiftly on this legislation when we return from the holidays in January,” Amodei added.

Amodei’s encouragement might not be enough to move Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has suggested the Senate will not take up the legislation until after the impeachment trial. The timing of the trial remains up in the air, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is awaiting assurances from McConnell about the process before sending the articles of impeachment over to the Senate.

Hugh Jackson
Editor | Hugh Jackson has been writing about Nevada policy and politics for more than 20 years. He was editor of the Las Vegas Business Press, senior editor at the Las Vegas CityLife weekly newspaper, daily political commentator on the Las Vegas NBC affiliate, and wrote the then-groundbreaking Las Vegas Gleaner, which among other things was the only independent political blog from Nevada that was credentialed at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. He spent a few years as a senior energy and environmental policy analyst for Public Citizen, and has occasionally worked as a consultant on mining, taxation, education and other issues for Nevada labor and public interest organizations. His freelance work has been published in outlets ranging from the Guardian to Desert Companion to In These Times to the Oil & Gas Journal. For several years he also taught U.S. History courses at UNLV. Prior to moving to Las Vegas, he was a reporter and then assistant managing editor at the Casper Star-Tribune, Wyoming’s largest newspaper.