A coalition of at least 16 House Democrats, led by Oregon’s Peter DeFazio, said Feb. 16 it will file a “Blueprint for America’s New Trade Policy,” urging President Trump to fulfill his campaign promises and negotiate a thorough overhaul of the North American Free Trade Agreement or withdraw from the 1994 agreement.
DeFazio, the ranking Democrat on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, included in the resolution a provision on Mexican trucks saying that a new Nafta should return to a limited free trade zone on both sides of the border, where southbound trucks would hand off trailers to Mexican carriers and northbound commercial vehicles would drop trailers for U.S. companies.
“We had a system that worked well,” DeFazio said at a press conference. Backed by representatives of the AFL-CIO and the Sierra Club, the House Democrats said Nafta has been “devastating” to U.S. workers and North America’s environment and created “a race to the bottom” on wages and environmental protection.
Although Trump has relied heavily on Republican votes — especially in the Senate — during the early days of his administration, DeFazio said his coalition can offer needed support to the administration. He said House Speaker Paul Ryan, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are all supporters of free trade who will fight Trump “tooth and nail” on the issue.
DeFazio said Mexican trucks and their drivers do not have to follow U.S. safety standards during the Mexican segments of their trips, so their access to U.S. roads should be limited.
Democratic House members Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Debbie Dingell of Michigan, Daniel Lipinski of Illinois, Rick Nolan of Minnesota, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Robert Scott of Virginia joined DeFazio in a House T&I subcommittee room and said Nafta has led to U.S. job losses, business failures and trade deficits. They criticized Trump for more moderate statements on the issue since he took office.