Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Bill Pascrell (9th District of NEW JERSEY)
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) today participated in a conference call between the Democratic members of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to discuss the pending implementation of the new North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on July 1. Following the call with Ambassador Lighthizer, Rep. Pascrell released the following statement.
“While I voted against the final product, I still believe it’s vital that the new NAFTA agreement is fully enforced to protect all workers,” said Rep. Pascrell, who has long fought for strong labor protections and enforcement with teeth in international trade agreements. “Ambassador Lighthizer must listen to the Labor Advisory Committee’s recommendations for appointing rapid response panelists so strong enforcers are positioned to win the fight for American workers and Mexican workers. I was encouraged that Ambassador Lighthizer agreed with this underlying point. Having rapid response panelists who understand labor rights is paramount to this new enforcement mechanism working. With implementation now weeks away, nothing is more important than making sure Mexico lives up to its end of this bargain, and I will be closely watching.”
Rep. Pascrell has been a leader in Congress on trade issues. Pascrell was deeply involved in the NAFTA renegotiations, traveling to talks in both Montreal and Mexico City in 2018, meeting with Mexican President Lopez Obrador in Mexico City in 2019, and working with the U.S. Trade Representative to ensure the perspectives of American workers and businesses are heard and accounted for in any agreement.
Throughout the process, Pascrell repeatedly emphasized that any new NAFTA agreement must contain: strong enforceable labor provisions that can be implemented and then monitored meaningfully; environmental standards that block companies from polluting; and reforms to ensure that public welfare measures and the rights of sovereign governments are not unfairly undermined by international tribunals, among other areas.
In January 2018, Rep. Pascrell led 183 House Democrats urging U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to prioritize Mexican labor reforms in NAFTA renegotiations. In August 2018, Pascrell wrote to then-Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady (D-TX-08) calling on him to assemble the House Advisory Group on Negotiation (HAGON) to advise the Trump administration as it continued the NAFTA renegotiations. In November 2018, Pascrell and former Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI-09) wrote to the U.S. Trade Representative and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta highlighting anti-worker violence and intimidation in Mexico. In April 2019, Pascrell led 85 of his colleagues again calling on Ambassador Lighthizer to demand that Mexico pass meaningful labor reforms before consideration of any renegotiated NAFTA.