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Senate Votes to Pass Revised NAFTA, Sending USMCA to Trump’s Desk

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Within nine days, six Senate committees had given the implementing legislation seals of approval, allowing for the vote to occur Thursday morning before the impeachment trial formally began.

“Undaunted by those who set to throw him out of office since day one, President Trump forges ahead for the good of the American people,” Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said. “Passage of U.S.M.C.A. is better late than never.”

The bipartisan support for the deal came at a moment when partisan politics have stymied most legislative efforts. In part because of the Democratic stamp on the pact’s terms, 37 Democrats joined 51 Republicans in voting for the deal, including opponents of the original North American Free Trade Agreement and others typically averse to trade pacts.

“I never thought I’d be voting for a trade agreement during my Senate tenure that I wrote a big part of,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio, whose vote for the pact was his first for a trade agreement in a quarter century. Mr. Brown embraced the measure after labor enforcement language that he and Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, crafted was included in the final agreement.

Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, sat with members of his staff in the Senate gallery looking on as senators cast their votes. At least one senator, Republican Rob Portman of Ohio and a former trade representative, walked upstairs to chat with him during the vote.

In 1993, NAFTA passed the Senate on a 61 to 38 vote, and the deal has since been criticized by lawmakers across Capitol Hill for enabling the flow of American jobs to Mexico. A substantial part of the new agreement is dedicated to updating that original text, adding revised guidelines for food safety, e-commerce and online data flows, as well as anti-corruption provisions.

But there are significant changes in the deal negotiated by Mr. Trump’s trade staff and Democrats, including higher thresholds for how much of a car must be made in North America in order to avoid tariffs. It rolls back a special system of arbitration for corporations that has drawn bipartisan condemnation, and also includes additional provisions designed to help identify and prevent labor violations, particularly in Mexico.



Source Site> NewYorkTimes

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