Warren Changes Stance, Breaking with Bernie in Support of USMCA

Sen. Elizabeth Warren during the Democratic primary debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif., December 19, 2019. (Mike Blake/Reuters)

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) said she would vote to pass the USMCA trade deal in the Senate during an interview Friday, despite saying in 2018 that she would not support “NAFTA 2.0.”

Warren cited “improvements” made after months of negotiations between the White House and House Democrats as the reason for her switch, saying that the deal will “help open up some markets for farmers” with tighter labor standards, but shifted the focus to what she would pursue as president.

“We really need trade negotiations going forward that make sure anyone who wants access to our markets is actually helping us in the fight against climate change and helping build an economy that works for everybody in the U.S.,” Warren argued.

During a speech in November 2018, Warren called USMCA “NAFTA 2.0,” saying she would not support it unless the president “reopens the agreement and produces a better deal for America’s working families.” Warren also stated the agreement “does little to reduce pollution or combat the dangers of climate change.”

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USMCA gives “American companies one more reason to close their factories here and move to Mexico where the environmental standards are lower. That’s bad for the earth and bad for American worker,” she said at the time.

Warren’s discussion of climate change mirrored that of fellow progressive candidate Bernie Sanders, who said during the last Democratic debate that it was “an outrage” that climate change was not mentioned in USMCA. But unlike Warren, Sanders remains opposed to USMCA because “it is not going to stop outsourcing” despite “modest improvements.”

“What we need is a trade policy that stands up for workers, stands up for farmers,” he explained in the December debate.

President Trump’s landmark North American trade deal passed the House last month with bipartisan support after Democrats negotiated for tighter enforcement of labor standards. The additions to the deal received the endorsement of U.S. labor unions, a powerful party in negotiations.

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