Following Trump’s State of the Union, Kaptur and House Colleagues Warn NAFTA 2.0 Lacks Effective Enforcement, Would Lock In High Drug Prices

February 6, 2019
Press Release
Changes to NAFTA text still needed on enforceable labor and environmental standards, outsourcing incentives

Washington, D.C. — Today, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13), Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), and Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02) responded to President Trump’s State of the Union speech in which he praised his NAFTA 2.0 agreement. The text of the agreement—which many House Democrats have urged needs to be changed to address issues on prescription drug costs, labor and environmental standards, and outsourcing incentives—was signed by all three nations on November 30, 2018.


“For President Trump to declare victory on trade is dishonest and premature,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur. “Since the President took office, thousands of manufacturing workers across the heartland, including in my northern Ohio district, have been idled or laid off from their jobs in important keystone industries such as auto and steel as a result of senseless tariffs, closed off markets, and bad trade deals like NAFTA, while trade deficits increase. The American people deserve a fair trade agreement that brings jobs back, raises wages, improves working standards, and creates opportunities for workers in our communities. I stand ready to work with anyone who shares that same commitment. For the past two years I have urged the President to work closely with Congress to renegotiate NAFTA, there is no better time for collaboration to find a NAFTA 2.0 solution that benefits workers across our continent.”


With a national audience watching, President Trump failed to move the needle on the changes necessary to protect American workers and consumers in his NAFTA 2.0 agreement,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro. “Democrats would be willing to support a deal that puts working people first by ending outsourcing incentives and sets forth a trade template that supports American workers. However, the text is simply not there yet. As it stands, this deal locks in monopoly rights for Big Pharma, effectively ensuring that drug prices will remain high by providing giveaways to pharmaceutical companies. If the President is serious about reducing the cost of prescription drugs, this issue must be addressed. This provision—along with strong, enforceable labor and environmental provisions that ensure workers are paid a fair wage and environmental concerns are addressed—will require changes to the core of the agreement. I appreciate the work United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has put in throughout this process, and I look forward to continuing discussions on making these important changes to support American workers and their families.”


“While I continue to be supportive of renegotiating NAFTA, what I have seen so far does not do enough to protect the hardworking men and women of my district,” said Congressman Tim Ryan. “For far too long, I have seen firsthand how unfair trade agreements have harmed our manufacturing industry in Ohio and across the United States. Just this week the GM plant in my district started its first round of layoffs. I join with my colleagues in urging that a new NAFTA deal must protect workers’ rights and freedoms, create strong environmental standards, include substantive provisions to end outsourcing incentives, strengthen enforcement mechanisms, and increase access to affordable prescription drugs.”


“Last night, President Trump called on Democrats to work with him on prescription drug reform,” said Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. “He also asked us to support NAFTA 2.0. What he failed to say is that these things are fundamentally at odds with each other. NAFTA 2.0, as written, will keep prescription drug costs high, and Americans will get poorer and sicker, as a result. Worse, it would tie Congress’ hands and prevent us from addressing the issue of drug costs. The President must re-open NAFTA 2.0 and work with House Democrats to ensure the new NAFTA works for working families in America.”


“NAFTA has caused harm to our workers and our manufacturing industries. So I welcomed a renegotiation that makes meaningful reforms for American workers and families,” said Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. “The jury is out on whether Trump’s deal will bring jobs back to the United States. But this administration must work with House Democrats to improve labor standards and enforceability in the agreement before it can be considered for approval.”


“I agree with the president that NAFTA has failed working Americans, but his NAFTA 2.0 proposal is more of the same,” said Congressman Jared Golden. “Putting a new paint job on the old NAFTA won’t work. Without significant changes to this proposal, Maine will see the last two decades repeated: closed mills, outsourced jobs, and stagnant wages. If the president is serious about protecting American jobs, I’ll work with him to overhaul NAFTA so that it defends Maine workers and forces Canada and Mexico to play by the rules.”