Sanders touts vote against Trump trade deal backed by primary rivals

Sanders touts vote against Trump trade deal backed by primary rivals
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPresident Trump faces Herculean task in first debate The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Trump's tax return bombshell New Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments MORE (I-Vt.) touted his Thursday vote against President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau intends to wrap up count on Oct. 5 despite judge's order Top House Republican calls for probe of source of NYT Trump tax documents New Yorkers report receiving ballots with wrong name, voter addresses MORE's North American trade deal that was supported by several of the other candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Sanders was the sole senator running in the Democratic presidential primary to vote against the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 89-10. The deal, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, passed the Democratic-controlled House by a vote of 385-41 in December.

“As one of the only candidates opposing Trump's trade deal, I want to thank Sen. @ChuckSchumer [D-N.Y.] for joining this fight,” Sanders said in a Thursday tweet praising the Senate minority leader’s vote against USMCA.

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“USMCA will make climate change worse. We will do better when I’m president.”

Trump secured strong Democratic support for the agreement by including stronger labor law enforcement measures, scrapping protections on high-cost pharmaceuticals, and other provisions meant to protect American workers.

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The changes were enough to win over several of Trump’s Democratic challengers who’ve opposed prior trade deals, including Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Campaign Report: Trump's tax bombshell | More election drama in Pennsylvania | Trump makes up ground in new polls New Biden campaign ad jabs at Trump's reported 0 income tax payments Democrats blast Trump after report reveals he avoided income taxes for 10 years: 'Disgusting' MORE (Mass.), Amy KlobucharAmy Klobuchar3 reasons why Biden is misreading the politics of court packing Social media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE (Minn.) and Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetOVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats tee up vote on climate-focused energy bill next week | EPA reappoints controversial leader to air quality advisory committee | Coronavirus creates delay in Pentagon research for alternative to 'forever chemicals' Senate Democrats demand White House fire controversial head of public lands agency Next crisis, keep people working and give them raises MORE (Colo.).

Warren, like other progressives backing USMCA, called the deal a solid step toward rewriting trade agreements to empower workers.

“We need a different approach to trade and it starts with the corruption of the giant corporations,” Warren said during Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate.

But Sanders joined eight Democrats, including Schumer, in opposition to the agreement over a lack of environmental safeguards and insufficient measures to stop the outsourcing of U.S. jobs.

“We need to fundamentally rewrite our disastrous trade agreements and create and protect good-paying American jobs,” Sanders said Wednesday in remarks on the Senate floor.

Sanders’s opposition to USMCA draws a key distinction between himself and Warren, his chief rival for progressive primary voters, with less than three weeks until the Iowa caucuses. While Sanders and Warren are ideologically aligned on most issues, Sanders has sought to distinguish himself as the most progressive candidate running to unseat Trump.

Sanders's vote also provoked a rebuke from Trump's reelection campaign, elevating the senators' opposition.

"Socialist Bernie Sanders just proudly voted AGAINST new jobs and higher wages for Americans workers," the Trump campaign wrote in an email to supporters. 

"Sanders is willing to sacrifice blue-collar jobs and better wages, even as he enjoys flying fossil fuel burning private jets on an almost daily basis," the email continued.