Advance Notice: Briefs

Dingell wants ‘certainty’ for workers, businesses, before USMCA vote

By: - June 10, 2019 1:20 pm

Vice President Mike Pence visits a Ford Factory in Southeast Michigan to push for the USMCA, April 24, 2019 | Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen via Flickr Public Domain

U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) wants to see more “accountability” for Mexico in the Trump administration’s proposed reboot of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Speaking with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo on Sunday, Dingell said she and her Democratic colleagues remain concerned about the lack of teeth in the proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA)’s labor enforcement provisions.

She pointed to General Motors building its rebooted Blazer sport utility vehicle in Mexico, where labor costs are substantially lower.

“We need to see Mexico do more to ensure there’s enforcement, that there’s accountability for the enforcement,” Dingell said.

“When we have that accountability, when we know they’re going to enforce it, then [this agreement] becomes okay,” Dingell continued. “The votes in the House are not there until these changes take place.”

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) expressed similar critiques in an interview last month with the Advance.

“It’s not ready for prime time,” Levin said. “The labor enforcement mechanisms are inadequate, and they’re not in the text. The environmental enforcement mechanisms are not adequate, and they’re not in the text.”

Lobbyists for Trump trade deal launch Michigan ad blitz

Both Levin and Dingell also voiced a concern common among Democrats that passage of the USMCA, as it currently stands, would be a giveaway to the prescription drug industry, raising costs for consumers.

The New York Times reports that the issue involves a certain group of drugs receiving what amounts to a decade of price protection against other products. Keeping that provision, they say, would undercut wider efforts to rein in health care costs.

Ultimately, Dingell said her objections to the USMCA’s current incarnation stem from the inability for workers and companies that deal with partners in Mexico and Canada to know that they’ll be held to the same high labor standards as their American counterparts.

“So I wish we had more certainty,” Dingell said, adding that she wants a vote as soon as possible, assuming the changes are made. “We need these tweaks [to the proposed agreement].”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Nick Manes
Nick Manes

Nick Manes is a former Michigan Advance reporter, covering West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels.