On Thursday, December 19, 2019, by a vote of 385 Yeas to 41 Nays, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement Implementation Act (H.R. 5430) to approve and implement the USMCA regional integration scheme.
Of those who voted against the sovereignty-crushing regional merger scheme, Representative Justin Amash (I-Mich.) tweeted earlier on Thursday:
President Trump on trade deals:— Justin Amash (@justinamash) December 19, 2019
NAFTA: “the worst Trade Deal ever made”
TPP: “even worse” than NAFTA
USMCA (mostly NAFTA with elements of TPP): “the best and most important trade deal ever made”
Amash’s tweet accurately highlights how the USMCA is merely a merger of both NAFTA and TPP — a fact that was even touted by Richard N. Haass, the president of the pro-one world government Council on Foreign Relations. On October 2, 2018, the day after the initial text of the USMCA was released, Haass tweeted:
USMCA is NAFTA plus TPP plus a few tweaks. Whatever...if @realDonaldTrump and the Congress are now prepared to embrace a pro-trade agenda, it is all to the good. Ideally, US participation in TPP by another name would be next; failing that, a US-Japan FTA would be second best.— Richard N. Haass (@RichardHaass) October 2, 2018
Canada ?? and Mexico ?? sued the USA ?? to force removal of country of origin labels on beef and pork. Congress relented in the face of a WTO ruling. Consumers and farmers lost out. Why weren’t our food labeling laws restored as part of #USMCA agreement?https://t.co/e8I8XcByeQ— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) December 19, 2019
Massie’s tweet underscores the serious threat that global and regional governance bodies pose to U.S. national sovereignty, which the USMCA only further builds upon. The USMCA establishes an EU-style Free Trade Commission in Chapter 30 of the agreement and it elevates the very same World Trade Organization, which ruled against U.S. country of origin labels (COOL).
In 2008, Congress amended the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 to require meat products such as beef and pork sold in the United States to have country of origin labels (COOL). Canada claimed that COOL violated WTO rules and, as a result, Canada and Mexico, along with other countries, took the United States to arbitration under a WTO Dispute Settlement Body (DSB). The WTO DSB ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico, stating that they could retaliate by imposing over $1 billion in tariffs on U.S. products unless the United States repealed the law. Kow-towing to the WTO ultimatum, the then-Republican majority controlled House of Representatives voted 300 to 131 in favor of repealing COOL. COOL’s repeal was also included in the $1.4 trillion omnibus-spending bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in December 2015.
Nevertheless, during House negotiations over the USMCA, Representative Massie proposed to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that COOL be added to the USMCA. On December 9, 2019, both Massie and Representative Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) sent a bipartisan letter to Lighthizer asking for the inclusion of COOL in the agreement. “On behalf of farmers and consumers in the United States, we request that language be included in the USMCA that allows the United States to restore its sovereign right to label the country of origin of beef and pork,” Massie and Pingree wrote. “This change would protect the rights of farmers and consumers in the country who deserve to know the origin of the food they consume.” However, Lighthizer and those wishing to satisfy the desire for regional economic integration — under the guise of freeing world and regional trade — would have nothing to do with the suggestion.
Congress’ weak-kneed acquiescence to the WTO’s global edict foreshadows how it will likely rubber-stamp any changes or decisions dictated by the USMCA’s unaccountable Free Trade Commission. In fact, the USMCA Implementation Act makes federal, state, and personal sovereignty subservient to the USMCA.
Section 102 of the implementing legislation states: “No provision of the USMCA, nor the application of any such provision to any person or circumstance, which is inconsistent with any law of the United States, shall have effect.” However, the whole purpose of the bill is in fact to change U.S. law in order to be in compliance with the USMCA, once the bill is enacted into law. Section 102 of H.R. 5430 read, in part: “Nothing in this Act shall be construed ... to amend or modify any law of the United States, or ... to limit any authority conferred under any law of the United States, unless specifically provided for in this Act.” (Emphasis added.)
Regarding State law, Section 102 goes on to state, “No State law, or the application thereof, may be declared invalid as to any person or circumstance on the ground that the provision or application is inconsistent with the USMCA, except in an action brought by the United States for the purpose of declaring such law or application invalid.” (Emphasis added.)
In other words, this empowers the federal government to sue states to overturn their laws that conflict with the USMCA. Turning federalism upside down, this language would virtually transform the federal government into an enforcer against the States on behalf of the regional integration scheme.
During debate, hours prior to passing the USMCA implementation bill, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) opened his remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives by saying, “I am delighted to stand in support of H.R. 5430, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement implementing legislation.” He added, “The legislation we are considering today is a result of almost 14 months of negotiations between House Democrats and Ambassador Lighthizer. And I’m very proud of the outcome that we have reached.”
In their remarks, Democrat after Democrat praised U.S. Trade Representative and CFR luminary Robert Lighthizer for his work and negotiations on the trade scheme.
“I want to thank Speaker Pelosi, Chairman Neal of the Ways and Means Committee, and Ambassador Lighthizer, who represented the administration in his straightforward, honest way,” House Majority Leader, and lead sponsor of the implementation bill, Representative Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said in his opening remarks.
“I am proud of the work with our chairman, with our working group, the speaker who periodically invested huge amounts of time to keep it on track ... and of course Ambassador Lighthizer, who was a great partner working with us,” Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) remarked.
“This is solid and I want to commend the chair, the ranking member, the working group, but also the staff of the countless hours you put in to get us to this place, but especially Ambassador Bob Lighthizer, through his perseverance and patience through the months,” Representative Ron Kind (D-Wisc.) lauded.
“I want to thank the chairman and I want to thank Mr. Brady. I want to thank Mr. Blumenauer and Mr. Buchanan for a great job that they did, and also Mr. Lighthizer. He’s a different kind of guy and I really believe that he was essential to getting to this vote today,” Representative Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) said.
Despite all the pomp and circumstance from both Republicans and Democrats of how the USMCA is purportedly a major “win for America” that will greatly boost the U.S. economy and benefit farmers across the country, several prognosticators had predicted only negligible to moderate economic gains at best. For example, the U.S. International Trade Commission’s (ITC) report, released in April 2019, about the USMCA’s expected impact on the economy, estimated that the “USMCA would likely increase GDP by about 0.35 percent ($68.2 billion), employment by about 0.12 percent (176,000 full-time equivalent jobs), and exports to Canada and Mexico by about 5.9 and 6.7 percent ($19.1 billion and $14.2 billion), respectively.” An estimated 0.35-percent GDP increase and 0.12-percent jobs increase are numbers hardly worth gloating about. The predicted less-than-half of a single percent increase in GDP and employment pales in comparison to the foreseeable ramifications that the USMCA would have on U.S. sovereignty and independence.
In addition to heaping accolades on Lighthizer, both Democrats and Republicans also lauded the hemispheric scope of the integration scheme.
“This was a successful negotiation of the largest trade agreement in history — a hemispheric agreement that I think we can stand in support of with great pride today,” Representative Neal concluded in his opening remarks. And Representative Kind lauded how the USMCA seeks to “support the Northern Hemisphere economy.”
“We’re living in a time right now where supply chains are choosing where to move around the world,” Representative David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) said. “The fact of the matter is that we’re going to move North America into a stable, much more robust, and we know what the rules are, trading bloc, gives us a chance to draw much more of the world’s supply chains, manufacturing, trade, commerce, as we get to be one of the key hubs in the world.”
Schweikert’s well-meaning remarks fail to recognize the much-bigger picture of how such trading blocs erode the sovereignty and independence of nation-states and are instrumental in bringing about a one-world government through a series of interlocking and overlapping economic unions and other regional integration schemes.
In 1962, Lincoln P. Bloomfield, a long-time State Department apparatchik and CFR member, wrote a report entitled A World Effectively Controlled by the United Nations: A Preliminary Survey of One Form of a Stable Military Environment. In the report, Bloomfield envisioned “ever-larger units evolv[ing] through customs unions, confederation, regionalism, etc., until ultimately the larger units coalesce under a global umbrella.”
In 1993, during the debate over the original NAFTA agreement, Kissinger then exclaimed in the Washington Post, “What Congress will soon have before it is not a conventional trade agreement but the hopeful architecture of a new international system.” Kissinger further elaborated, “A regional Western Hemisphere Organization dedicated to democracy and free trade would be a first step toward the new world order that is so frequently cited but so rarely implemented.” (Emphasis added).
With regard to the USMCA, both the former and current Mexican presidents embraced how the agreement would further integrate and unify the continent. On November 30, 2018, prior to signing the USMCA on behalf of Mexico, then-President of Mexico Enrique Peña Nieto touted, “The negotiation of the Mexico-United States-Canada Treaty made it possible to reaffirm the importance of the economic integration of North America,” further remarking, “The renegotiation of the new trade agreement sought to safeguard the vision of an integrated North America, the conviction that together we are stronger and more competitive.” (Emphasis added). Shortly after the agreement, Peña Nieto tweeted (originally in Spanish):
On my last day as President, I am very honored to have participated in the signing of the new Trade Treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada. This day concludes a long process of dialogue and negotiation that will consolidate the economic integration of North America.
Tratado entre México, Estados Unidos y Canadá (Treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada), or T-MEC, is the official name of the USMCA in Spanish used by the Mexican government.
At the recent signing ceremony for the 27-page Protocol of Amendment to the USMCA, held in Mexico City on December 10, 2019, Mexico’s current President Andrés Manuel López Obrador exalted, “With development cooperation, which will be possible with the agreement, the unity of the Americas, the unity of our continent, the unity of all countries, the peoples of our America, the America that saw Abraham Lincoln born and of the America that saw Benito Jaurez born, we have this agreement with North America, without turning our backs on our America.”
Unlike the two highly partisan Articles of Impeachment against President Trump that passed the House Wednesday evening, Speaker Pelosi promised to immediately transmit the USMCA to the Senate. “I urge a bipartisan vote for the USMCA and urge Senator McConnell to take the bill up quickly. We can send it right over. He can take it up any time,” Pelosi remarked. “If the Senate Republicans care about workers, they will no doubt join us to send this bill to the president’s desk.”
However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reiterated on Thursday that the Senate would only consider the USMCA after it holds an impeachment trial.
“Unfortunately, the Speaker’s 12 months of delay have made it literally impossible for the Senate to take up the agreement this year," McConnell said. “And if House Democrats send us impeachment articles, those have to come first in January, so the USMCA will get pushed back yet again.”
Despite McConnell’s comments of it being too late to consider H.R. 5430, the Senate can consider the deal at any time now under the “fast-track” Trade Promotion Authority that Congress passed in 2015.
Pelosi’s delaying to transmit the Articles of Impeachment to the upper chamber may expedite a vote on H.R. 5430, to approve and implement the USMCA, in the Senate.
Image: screenshot of House vote on USMCA