Sherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for'

Sherrod Brown backs new North American trade deal: 'This will be the first trade agreement I've ever voted for'
© Aaron Schwartz

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownSchiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line Sunday shows - All eyes on Senate impeachment trial Senate Democrat: 'Fine' to hear from Hunter Biden MORE (D-Ohio) on Friday announced his support for President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE's recently announced deal with Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group On The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Social Security emerges as flash point in Biden-Sanders fight | Dems urge Supreme Court to save consumer agency | Trump to sign USMCA next week Veronica Escobar to give Spanish-language response to Trump State of the Union address MORE (D-Calif.) on a revamped North American trade agreement, saying it will be the first trade deal he has ever supported.

Brown, a vocal skeptic of global trade pacts and a chief advocate for labor rights, praised Democrats' efforts to revise the initial deal struck by the Trump administration while backing the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) reached this week.

“One of my proudest votes was against NAFTA, because I knew it would encourage multinational corporations to close factories in Ohio and offshore jobs to Mexico," Brown said in a statement, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement signed in the 1990s.

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"The agreement President Trump negotiated wasn’t much better, and I have spent more than a year working to make it more pro-worker,” he continued.

“We fought tooth and nail against the administration, and with the support of Speaker Pelosi, Senator Wyden, and the union movement, we secured significant improvements for workers that President Trump’s initial agreement left out, namely stronger enforcement,” Brown added. 

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The statement comes as Democrats work to gin up support for the revised North American trade pact, after striking a deal with the White House over certain revisions they had long sought. 

Pelosi said that the agreements include stronger environmental and labor standards intended to help U.S. workers and will require Mexico to raise its minimum wage. Canada will also be allowed to buy more U.S. goods online duty-free and will also install a new regime of rules relating to digital trade.

At a press conference earlier this week, Pelosi said she hoped to pass legislation for the trade deal before Christmas but would give time for Democrats to read and weigh in on the final negotiated deal. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellCNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group Democrats feel political momentum swinging to them on impeachment Impeachment throws curveball in Iowa to sidelined senators MORE (R-Ky.), however, said his chamber will not take up the deal until after an impeachment trial, which is expected to begin in January.

Senate Republicans have expressed frustration to the administration over the White House’s deal with House Democrats, saying they were not kept in the loop in the final-stage negotiation that resulted in the concessions to Pelosi. 

Despite the criticism from his own party, Trump has urged Congress to forge ahead with the deal, hoping to tout it as a major legislative win as he campaigns for reelection in 2020.