Biden backs new North American trade deal

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Former Vice President Joe Biden announced his support for the revised North American trade deal, a top legislative priority for President Trump that has drawn skepticism from other 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.

“What I’ve seen change is that the vast majority of the labor movement supported it,” Biden told reporters Friday in Los Angeles while discussing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), according to Bloomberg News.

The statement of support came a day after the House passed a bill to implement the trade deal, an overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump has made a centerpiece of his economic agenda.

House Democrats came around to the deal after successfully lobbying for additional provisions that would create independent panels to ensure Mexican factories are complying with the agreement, allow the U.S. to impose tariffs on firms that violate the deal’s labor standards, strengthen enforcement mechanisms for environmental standards and eliminate loopholes for drug companies.

The USMCA has sharply divided the 2020 Democratic primary field, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a staunch progressive, coming out against the deal at this week’s debate and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) remaining noncommittal.

“It is not going to stop outsourcing. It is not going to stop corporations from moving to Mexico,” said Sanders.

“My concern is it has nothing on the environment, and that’s really important, especially for the competition with our own companies,” Warren added after the debate. “And we have a global climate crisis. But it is better on some provisions for labor. It’s much better on investor-state dispute resolution. So I’m taking a close look at the varied details to see how to weigh this.” 

The division comes as Democratic presidential contenders jostle for support among white working-class voters in the Rust Belt for whom trade deals are a central issue. 

The USMCA bill passed in the House by a 385-41 vote and can’t be amended in the Senate, where it needs a simple majority to pass and will not be considered until next year.

Tags Bernie Sanders Donald Trump Elizabeth Warren Joe Biden

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