WASHINGTON, D.C. — It’s a trade deal that will impact Ohio farmers and Ohio autoworkers especially, and one that produced bipartisan support between Ohio lawmakers.

  • 14/16 Ohio House members vote for trade deal
  • USMCA will impact Ohio farmers and autoworkers
  • Bill now heads to Senate, where it’s expected to pass

On Thursday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA), the first major trade deal to be voted through in 25 years.

It now heads to the U.S. Senate, where it’s expected to be passed early next year after the conclusion of President Trump’s impeachment trial.

“I think it’s a great deal for our country,” said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-01). “Not perfect, but very little that comes out of Washington is perfect. But it’s about as close as it gets around here.”

“Is it a perfect bill? No,” said Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-03). “But when you look at the number of things that we were able to get in this bill that’s good for labor, that’s good for America, that’s good for the workers, I think it’s the right thing to do.”

All but two of Ohio’s delegation voted for the USMCA, except for Cleveland Democrat Marcia Fudge (D-11) and Toledo Democrat Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-09).

In an interview on Wednesday night, Kaptur explained that she didn’t feel the legislation went far enough to address a host of issues, including labor enforcement in Mexico.

“I won’t support USMCA because I have no faith that the institutions that are established in the agreement will actually provide the enforcement that is necessary to adjudicate a variety of complaints that will occur, either on the environmental side and, importantly, on the labor side,” Kaptur said.

The USMCA will require 75-percent of car parts to be made in the United States, Canada or Mexico in order to avoid tariffs — an increase from 62-percent.

It will also mandate that more car parts be made by workers who make at least $16 an hour.

Columbus-area Republican Rep. Steve Stivers (R-15) said in an interview that these new rules are exactly why an automobile supplier is building a new plant in his district.

“When we did the groundbreaking in July or August, the CEO — it’s a Canadian company — said the only reason we’re here is the USMCA and we need to pass the USMCA,” Stivers said.

The deal will also help out Ohio farmers by expanding trade between the three countries.

Rep. Bob Latta (R-05) said it will make a big difference in his rural Northwest Ohio district.

“What we’re going to be able to see is more poultry, from chickens to turkeys to dairy, being able to be exported to our trading partners on a more fair basis,” Latta said.

Both of Ohio’s senators, Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican Rob Portman, have already announced they will vote for the USMCA when the time comes.

It will be the first trade deal Brown has voted for in his 25 years in Congress, citing labor enforcement language he introduced being included in the bill as his reason.

Trump has been a big supporter of the USMCA, so he is expected to sign it into law once it is passed by the Senate.

The deal will update the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that was passed in the mid-1990s.