United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement
The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is a proposed free trade agreement between the three largest countries of North America. If adopted, the USMCA would replace the current North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which has been in place since 1994. The intent of NAFTA was to lower barriers to trade, facilitate cross-border movement of goods and services, and promote conditions of fair competition.
On November 30, 2018, after months of negotiations, President Trump, Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada, and President Nieto of Mexico signed the USMCA. While the draft deal was signed by leaders from all three countries, it now needs to be ratified by each country’s legislature before taking effect. When it comes to trade agreements, I take a principled approach: what does a trade deal do for Michigan businesses and Michigan workers? This is the scorecard that any trade deal should be graded against. There are benefits that come from trading with our international partners, but those benefits should not come at the expense of working Americans.
To be sure, in many ways USMCA is an improvement on NAFTA, and I was pleased to see some of the provisions that have been included in the deal. For example, improved “rules of origin” will facilitate increased domestic auto manufacturing, protecting American autoworkers. Easing of restrictions on Canadian markets will increase export opportunities – particularly for the Michigan agricultural sector. Finally, I also support the strengthened labor, wage, and environmental protections that seek to improve working conditions, raise wages, protect our environment, and level the playing field for all three countries.
However, in my view, some of these positive provisions do no go nearly far enough. For example, many of the labor and environmental protections that are so essential to leveling the playing field and benefiting American workers are insufficient and lack adequate enforcement mechanisms or changes to domestic laws, particularly in Mexico, to be effective.
I am also concerned that some provisions in the USMCA may harm American consumers. Of particular concern are the significant giveaways to pharmaceutical companies that will drive up the cost of prescription drugs for consumers while doing nothing to protect American workers. Specifically, increased intellectual property protections for American pharmaceutical companies will impede the development of generic drugs that provide consumers with a more affordable option. Constituents in our district constantly approach me to discuss the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs and the financial squeeze that it is causing them. I do not support a scenario in which the USMCA exacerbates this already significant problem.
The renegotiation of NAFTA has given us an opportunity to do right by American workers. To do so, I will continue to work with United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, my fellow Members of Congress, and constituents to improve upon the USMCA as it currently stands. As your elected representative, please be assured that I will always fight for Michigan workers and will keep your views in mind when the finalized USMCA comes to the House floor for a vote.
Minimum Wage / Raise the Wage Act
The Raise the Wage Act, H.R. 582, was introduced in the House of Representatives on January 16, 2019. The bill would gradually increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour, a standard that has been in place since 2009, to $15 an hour by the year 2024. The bill also includes measures for continual wage increases past 2024 that are based on inflation and cost-of-living adjustments. Finally, there are multiple provisions relating to increased compensation for tipped workers, young workers, and workers with disabilities – all of whom are currently able to be paid sub-minimum wages – to qualify them for the same federal minimum wage as all other workers.
I believe that the minimum wage must be a living wage and that no one working full-time should be living in poverty. I understand the importance of this living wage for all workers, including tipped workers, young workers, and workers with disabilities. To that end, I am a co-sponsor of the Raise the Wage Act, along with over 200 of my colleagues.
That being said, I remain aware of the concerns associated with the bill, including that the bill’s mandated wage increases could result in layoffs, particularly at small businesses that don’t have the ability to employ the same levels of staff at higher wages. I am committed to working with my colleagues to make sure that this bill strikes a good balance between providing workers a livable wage and ensuring that small businesses can retain employees. I am actively advocating for creative solutions that would allow us to benefit from raising the federal minimum wage, while ensuring that our small businesses can thrive.
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More on Economy
WASHINGTON –– U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) released the following statement on the urgent need to pass a bipartisan infrastructure bill in Congress.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) released the following statement following the bipartisan passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). USMCA is a free trade agreement negotiated between the United States, Canada, and Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which entered into force in 1994 and has had a detrimental impact on jobs and the economy in Michigan.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) released the following statement today, following news that UAW would ratify its agreement with GM to end the strike. Slotkin’s district includes two GM plants.
“Congratulations to the UAW and GM for reaching an agreement that ends the strike,” Slotkin said. “This is a historic agreement that will provide a life-changing increase in pay for newer workers, quality and affordable health care for members, and many other benefits for GM workers that give them a better quality of life.”
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) and U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (PA-16) today introduced the STABLE (Saving To Achieve a Better Life Experience) Act, a bill that would allow employers to make matching contributions to an employee’s ABLE savings account, making it easier for individuals with disabilities and caregivers to save for future care.
LAKE ORION –– U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) visited UAW Local 5960 members on strike at the Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, one of two GM plants in Michigan’s 8th congressional district.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) along with Rep. Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03) introduced the Supplemental Security Income Restoration Act today, a bill that makes common-sense but impactful adjustments to the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which provides assistance to disabled or elderly individuals, but has gone largely unchanged since 1972.
WASHINGTON –– U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) voted in favor of the bipartisan Raise the Wage Act yesterday, a bill that would gradually raise the minimum wage over the course of five years, raising wages for 99,100 workers in Michigan’s 8th district, nearly 1 in 3 workers.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA officer and senior Pentagon official who serves as a member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), lauded today’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill authorizes the most robust defense budget in history, at $733 billion, as well as a 3.1% raise for service members.
ROCHESTER HILLS — Today, in partnership with Automation Alley, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (MI-08) will convene a roundtable of Michigan business leaders for a discussion on growing Michigan’s defense sector, with a focus on expanding opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses. Automation Alley is a nonprofit manufacturing and technology business association that connects industry, academia and government to fuel Michigan's economy and accelerate innovation.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s bipartisan Creating Opportunities through Defense Engineering Requirements (CODER) Act was incorporated into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the major annual bill that funds the Department of Defense, which passed out of the House Armed Services Committee this morning.