Senate Passed USMCA Trade Deal by 89-10, NAFTA Replaced

File image of President Donald Trump

Senate Approved USMCA Trade Deal

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a revised North American trade pact in a rare bipartisan vote Thursday that hands President Trump a victory on a key campaign promise just as lawmakers are preparing his impeachment trial.

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, passed by a vote of 89-10. The trade pact, signed by the president in November 2018, received a similar bipartisan vote in the House last month.

The USMCA is meant to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, negotiated in the 1990s by President George H.W. Bush and pushed through Congress by President Bill Clinton.

With a renegotiated trade pact with Mexico and Canada and the signing on Wednesday of an initial trade deal with China aimed at winding down a long and bitter trade war, Trump can claim to have fulfilled his pledge to get tough on trade and eliminate “bad deals” made by his predecessors.

Many economists argue that NAFTA was a substantial boost to North American economies, removing trade barriers, reducing tariffs and increasing foreign investment, particularly in Mexico.

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Critics, including Trump and many Democrats, say NAFTA sent U.S. jobs across the border. The president has frequently maligned NAFTA as “perhaps the worst trade deal ever made.”

But a report from 2017 by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service concluded that the impact of NAFTA over a quarter-century was difficult to isolate.

“A major challenge in assessing NAFTA is separating the effects that came as a result of the agreement from other factors. U.S. trade with Mexico and Canada was already growing prior to NAFTA and it likely would have continued to do so without an agreement,” it said.

“In reality, NAFTA did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters,” the report said.

The new agreement does offer some modest benefits over the previous pact.

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