The U.S. House passed a bill replacing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States Mexico Canada (USMCA) Trade Agreement with only strong support from the Florida delegation.
The House passed the bill on Thursday afternoon with 385 votes–193 Democrats and 192 Republicans–while 41 votes–38 Democrats, 2 Republicans and U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, I-Mich.–voted against it.
U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who announced earlier this month that he was going to stick to a campaign promise and not run again in 2020, was the only member of the Florida delegation to vote against the bill.
“NAFTA was originally created to remove traditional trade barriers and facilitate economic growth amongst the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Our great state of Florida is one of the biggest agriculture partners in the world, and our district benefits tremendously from free trade opportunities with other countries. However, international trade should not come at the expense of American farmers and workers,” said Yoho who sits on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs and the Agriculture Committees.
“I commend President Trump and his administration for renegotiating a much-needed trade deal between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico,” Yoho added. “However, this agreement will not solve the failures of NAFTA with regards to the seasonal competition of agricultural produce that caused our fruit and vegetable farmers to lose a large share of the U.S. market to Mexican producers. Absent proper trade enforcement tools, we are maintaining the status quo that will continue to harm Florida producers.
“USMCA favors Mexican producers over the hardworking Southeastern farmers. Remedies, after that fact are too late to address our farmers needs now. Without the inclusion of trade remedies in USMCA for Florida’s produce farmers, I cannot, in good conscience, support this agreement,” Yoho said in conclusion.
Yoho had praised much of the administration’s efforts in crafting USMCA but warned that there were problems in an op-ed written for Florida Daily earlier this month.
Other members of the Florida delegation from both sides of the aisle lined up behind the bill.
“Thanks to the hard work of our negotiators in the People’s House, USMCA has vastly improved since the beginning of this process,” said U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla. “The renegotiated agreement will bring generic drugs to market sooner and includes strong new enforcement standards to hold our trading partners accountable. These hard won provisions will help level the unfair playing field created by the original NAFTA agreement. That’s important because we know that in a fair fight, Florida workers will always win. This victory sets a critical new standard for fairness in our trade agreements.”
“Today, I voted in favor of the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Deal, which will modernize our trading relationship with Mexico and Canada for the first time in 24 years. This trade agreement is a huge win for our economy as it has the potential to create over 170,000 new jobs and produce over $60 billion in new economic activity. While this agreement lacked a specific provision that I fought for to protect our strawberry growers, I am confident the administration will join me to support this industry in the future. I will continue to work with the U.S. Trade Representative to ensure our farmers can compete on a level playing field with growers abroad,” said U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, R-Fla.
“USMCA is just the first step,” Spano added. “My constituents and Florida’s strawberry farmers come first. They’ve provided for us year-round and I will continue to fight for them year-round.”
The bill now heads to the U.S. Senate.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.