Democratic Leaders Make USMCA Trade Agreement Announcement | NBC News (Live Stream)

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Published: 12/10/2019 03:42 PM

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal will hold a press conference to discuss the USMCA trade agreement. » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: NBC News is a leading source of global ne...

Staffers you're taking pictures, please just make sure it does not flash and do not stand up in the middle of your boss chooses to leave. Thank you. This quick reminder all staff photographers, if you remember, teach your flashes off. Also everyone keep your elbow. Oh hello, nbc ma'am, you really can't come back when she has the two hearings, but she was very good morning. Everyone. This is a day. ...
We'Ve all been working to and working for on the path to. Yes, we were in range for a while, but until we could cross a certain threshold of enforcement for our workers, rights for environment and for the prescription drug issue, as you know, they were threeof the areas that we had put out there. I want to thank our chairman, richie neal, chair of the ways and means committee, the eight members of the task force, and i will acknowledge momentarily by thanking them for their leadership in negotiating on different segments of the legislation. I also want to thank richard trumka, the president of the afl-cio. He was persistent dissatisfied knowledgeable.

He really got us to a place which is a far distance from where we started with the proposal that was given to us. There is no question, of course, that this trade agreement is much better than nafta, but in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what wasinitially a pope our proposed by the administration, and i credit our chairman, richie neal, for helping us navigate. All of these places the unity of our caucus on specific priorities in order to get the job done and again, the brilliance, brilliance and knowledge of richard trumka as to the ramifications of every provision that was in the legislation, we'll be handing out a memo from the Ways in you may have it, which tells explains why we are so proud of the distance that we have come from where we started with the administration on this legislation. It'S a victory for america's workers. It'S one that we take great pride that great pride in advancing members of thethe eight members of the task force congresswoman rosa delauro, has a markup in her committee about workers rights in appropriation of someone, jan schakowsky you'll, be hearing from mike thompson of california terri sewell Of alabama suzanne bonamici of aragon, whom you'll be hearing from jimmy gomez of california, big earrings from its wall, i wear my others. John larson i've gone john larson of connecticut or a blue man, our of our again one two, three four five, six, seven eight here we are, and now it's my honor to yield to ritchie. He was indeed a maestro to make all of this happen. It'S with great respect and admiration for his work and gratitude that i yieldto the chairman next item speaker. Thank you every once in a great while you get to participate in a it will never happen moment, and we are witnessing that today, the other value of technology. I will point out was, after a round of intense finishing conversations and negotiations over the weekend that started on saturday morning with the speaker myself and the trade rep robert light heiser we went back in mr. trump booked. The speaker was, he was on a hunting expedition.

We spoke with him frequently, but the speaker talked to me earnestly about where near were near were near and on sunday, when tom brady was about to take it in all of a suddeni. Looked at my phone, i said pelosi for caller id long. Wisdom tells me the hell with brady, take the call [ laughter ]. So this is a transformative agreement. It'S a template, i believe for future agreements. Our constant emphasis was on enforceability and force ability and force ability. We fixed that and the idea and the notion that the president of the af of l-cio, rich trumka, would be supportive of this initiative. I think, tells the story, but this is more than a triumph for organized labor. It'S a triumph for workers everywhere across america. In terms of the working group members, i want to say that they strengthened the labor standards. They strengthened the environmental chapters, theyenhanced the verification mechanisms for environmental trade with the unflinching leadership of the speaker. We also secured important changes in us mca: the preserve congress's ability to change us law to address the crisis we are facing with respect to high prescription drug prices, all the intense period of these negotiations with the administration.

I repeatedly emphasized that us mca will deserve a vote, because it's an agreement that democrats shaped. I don't think anybody on this diet should have said two months ago that we would have been able to get as far as we did in this negotiation. It was based upon goodwill, but also a determination that we acknowledged the problems that have existed in the pastwith enforceability, and i was a very telling moment it was shared with the media on the day of the break in august with the working group, i said to The trade rep the last meeting, i said nothing - has fostered more disagreement about trade than the lack of enforce ability and the trade rep said to me. You are absolutely right and he said i want to tell you - and this is, i think, i'm not speaking out of school. He said there have been people in the state department, the defense department and the oval office over the years. Who said? Don'T get this one upset and don't get that one upset, because we might need them onfuture geographic issues? He said our position has been that we are supportive of the thrust of what you want to do here, and i think that the initiative that we offer is his position. I think the offering that we have in front of us today is indicative of the goodwill, but some of the members on this task force and including the chairman of the subcommittee mr. blum and our what a job they did. These were intense argumentative, angry negotiations. I mean this got really hot on a number of occasions. I think we set a world record for hanging up on each other myself in the trade rep and but at the same time we alsoknew that this was an opportunity that we couldn't let get away from us, and we did that. So we will continue to share more details in text.

The last point is a reminder that i traveled to mexico with the delegation to meet the president of mexico. Then, right after that, i traveled to canada to meet with the prime minister of canada and the minister for defense and trade free land. They are, i believe they were good partners in this. They conceded just about to every point that we asked for because of the following enforceability: enforceability enforceability. So with that, madam speaker, i'll turn it back to you. Thank you, madam speaker, has been an honorto serve on the working group. The trump administration sent us a deeply flawed trade deal that, among other things, would have raised the price of pharmaceuticals across north america by locking in high drug prices and expanding big farmers. Farmers monopoly over the past six months, my democratic colleagues and i on the working group. We we've worked for a deal that helps america's patients, workers and all consumers. We now have a new and improved renegotiated nafta that prevents big pharma from raising the price of prescription drugs across the united states, mexico and canada. First, we eliminated provisions that undermine congress's ability to change domestic policy that lead to high drug prices. The trump administration tried totalk into the the to tuck in big corporate gifts to big pharma in the usmc, a 10 years of market exclusivity for biologics, though we currently have four in the united states, 12 years of exclusivity in the united states.

This trade bill would have tied congress's hands and prevented us from enacting legislation. I have a bill that would actually lower the exclusivity period, but that provision is now out of the trade deal. It is gone what and because of our our current prescription drug pricing crisis. Many americans actually would go to canada and to mexico to get lower-cost drugs. This would have raised the cost across the hemisphere and this deal would have caused pricesof prescription drugs in those countries to skyrocket. On the first day of our negotiation, i told the us trade representative light hyzer that the biologic exclusivity provisions needed to be removed, and now they are gone. The trump administration also tried to gift big pharma, with increased protection for secondary patents and evergreening changing a little bit of a drug in order to get a new and extended patent and those provisions are gone. Finally, the trump administration also tried to prioritize brand-name drugs and include barriers to market entry of generic drugs, and we have now revised those provisions to ensure generic competition and to improve access and affordability to medicines for people across north america. Lots ofpeople to thank. We had an amazing staff on the on the committee and in our offices. I want to thank congressman bloom on our. He and i were working the pharmaceutical piece.

I also want to thank organized labor, rich trumka. They made that the drug provisions would be an important part of this this legislation, so we have fixed the u. s. mca for america's patients, consumers throughout the hemisphere. Thank you. Jim coma has been a remarkable job on the enforcement mechanisms. Jim first, let me thank the speaker and the chairman for trusting a a redshirt freshman to be on this working group. I always looked at this issue is very important because i i come fromlabor. I work for that american federation of state county municipal employees, nurses, union in california, so i've learned and i understood the seriousness of any trade agreement. When it comes to this one, we were asked to really work on the labor and the enforcement parts of the agreement. We look at it as a three-legged stool, one, the labor rules within the agreement to monitoring and three is enforcement. When it comes to the rules, if you have squishy language, then it's hard to understand if there's any violation of that of that agreement, so we tightened up the language to make it stronger and more enforceable and to you have to have monitoring of any violations onthe Ground, so we actually created some monitoring mechanism to assess mexico's progress and implemented its labor reforms and complying with the rules that we laid out in writing and three.

If there's no consequences to a violation that we discovered through monitoring of those rules, then the agreement is not worth what the paper it's written on. So we created an enhanced labor specific enforcement mechanism that will support and ensure violet that violation of the agreement standards will have real-world consequences. These provisions go to the objective that the speaker laid out the caucus laid out at the beginning of this negotiating process. I want to make very clear that this is no longer an act of lightthis is a new trade agreement that the that the working group and the perhaps have achieved with consultation, of course, with our partners. It is something that, when you look at it, that has included that's, never been included parts that we negotiate and have never been included in any labor. Any trade agreement ever in the history of this country, and that means that we're gon na have more confidence that this is actually going to benefit the american workers and it's gon na create a level plate of level playing field between mexico, the united states and canada. I think this is a big win. This is no longer nafta light and and to the extent where we haveto mexico, canada have to open up the agreement again and sign off on it again, but i want to just say that i learned from some of the best staffers. We have great staff up here who have really provided the guidance and expertise the stakeholders. The speaker is the is a master legislator and i think, without her chairman kneel and ask chairman bloom an hour. We would not be here today. Thank you so much.

She wasn't bonamici yeah. Thank you. So much four years ago today, president obama signed the every student succeeds act to replace no child left behind with better policy, something that a lot of people said would never get done well. Herewe are today, and the reason it happens is because of strong leadership, and when we fight hard for the american people, we can get something done, and we are here today to say thank you to speaker pelosi. Thank you to chairman neill and thank you to the work group who did work and fight hard for better provisions, and i can say unequivocally. This is significantly better than nafta and importantly, a new trade agreement setting high standards that is significantly better than the u. s. mca that came to us in the workgroup and with regard to the environment. We fought hard for these provisions. We have better rules on the environment. Importantly, we have enhanced monitoring, sowe know when violations happen and then critically we have strong enforcement and strong funding to make sure that those provisions are being enforced. We incorporate several multilateral agreement, environmental agreements.

We have an interagency committee to assess and monitor. This is going to be the best trade agreement for the environment, and that is because of the hard work of the speaker, the hard work and chairman neal on the hard work of the workgroup and all the stakeholders who fought hard. So, thank you all for being here today on this critical day and look forward to continuing till we get this over the finish line. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much for your hard workand of the of the gang of eight and great subcommittee and the rest the what will happen now right now as we're speaking that trade representatives on his way to mexico for there to be a signing of this new revised Trade agreement, which has come a long way from the original agreement that they presented to us if this that makes all the difference in the world to american workers, its workers in canada, workers in mexico. It makes all the difference in the world in terms of environmental issues, and it makes all the difference in the world in terms of what congresswoman schakowsky talked about in terms of not putting in a trade agreement. Something thatnot only bars those countries, but our country from making any changes to strengthen the hand to give more leverage back to consumers rather than to big pharma. With that, i will take some questions, but perhaps first, but the distinguished chairman would like to say what we do next in terms of the implementing legislation in there. Well, i think we're gon na be in the share text, and people have an opportunity to review parts of the agreement before there's any any expedited period of bringing it to the floor. But i also think that minister freeland is in mexico now with the trade rep, and we hope that they'll copper fasten the issue and as the pass outthat we have for the ways and means committee. I want to say something good that ways the means: staff that trade staff their best [ applause ], and so i think that i will begin to get the information out.

Why would you have to sort the implementation of language and get this to the floor? I think that there's no reason for unnecessary delays, but at the same time we want to make sure that there's a chance for people to caucus did that what we put together, [ laughter ]. No, it's not a coincidence. It'S just as we get to the end of a session. We have to be some decisions made. The timetable for impeachment is the timetable ofthe committee's, and that came to an end with the hearing yesterday. But for us this says that we didn't know what day it will be, but the trade representative master light has er who was quite remarkable to work with he. He shared our bags. He understood why we could not accept the trump administration product and he thought he wanted to get this signed by the mexicans and the canadian when you're dealing with something like this, it could be perishable, so he wanted to close. While we were all in agreement - and therefore just say again, it was just the idea of timing on this was that notification was offered that we might get there so thatwe had to prepare the mexican president, the canadian prime minister, as i noted earlier, the ambassador and The speaker cautioned him on saturday, i'm witness to the conversation on the phone. He was very anxious and she said no. We need another confirmation, phone call with rich trumka we still placed, and then i think that he had with his affiliates to the end of the session. So if you engineer back from what we hope to be the end december 20th, if you engineer back in order to get something accomplished which we hope to do before the end of the session, you have to move what you say to those who wonder how you Can say, thatpresident trump is an existential threat to democracy, in the one hand, but also worked so closely with his administration to get something like this done, which is such a priority for that as well.

I would say that we came a long way from what he originally proposed, what he currently proposed, and there are some people who said: why make it look like he has a victory. Well, we we we're declaring victory for the american worker and what is in this agreement, but we would never not any. One of us is important enough for us to hold up a trade agreement that is important for american workers. A big part of any collateral benefit that mighthave proved to any one of us. This is a hemispheric trade alert. That'S how important this is and we were determined to alter the conversation about trade. We made our own environment, you mind you, mexico has an active. So what is their motivation to, but we had to take everybody to a different place, and certainly we would never have agreed to what the president proposed. Yes, and we also believe that as we we proceed now into the final stages of just the text. Sharing that we'll be able to confirm what i've just said, not to miss the point that we can't turn our backs and deny the reality of trade. As i noted earlier, 95 % of the consumer class of the world lives outside of the united states, coupled with the other reality of it. If you talk to your children, your grandchildren, did you talk about the internet? I mean they've already globalized, so the idea for us, i think, is to shape these agreements so that the american worker is covered as well.

All you talk about when we come together. When are we getting out here? I was going to be a vice president and now you're saying your whiplashed into all this activity to get us out. You expect this has a life of its own. This is about a as, as the chairman i said, globalization is a reality, itis not going away and when we're shaping a bill that, when trade with the environment with workers, rights and the rest, this is it's its own reason for being, has nothing to do with The rest of what every we're talking about, but but i will say that it is in terms of globalization, environment and then talking about not using a trade agreement to hurt our ability to make our own laws in the united states and those states. Those countries to do so, i have one to support which was 260, but i was to 230. I was too late coming in. What'S now he's going to i mean i lost here's, the thing they had 230in, the agreement. There are some members who wanted that. I guess i don't know, i didn't name names buddy, he had 230 in the agreement, which is, in my view, the wrong way to go. It'S a real gift, a big protect, but i had said to the - and we know this - i had said to the trade representative - we're not adding any more issues to the discussion: environment, pharmaceuticals, workers, rights enforcement. That came to my attention after i made that commitment and by the way it was a letter from the chairman of the committee, the support and the ranking republican member asking that it be removed. But unfortunately we were not going to accept the originaldeal.

That'S what it comes down to it. It'S a real indication of why we are celebrating today. This victory for the american worker was under the leadership of our chairman, richie neon, the hard work of our our eight members of the working group and the. In addition to that, the trade committee and the input that we're getting from all of our members of our caucus event what the impact was in their areas, and we shared that with the trade with mr. trump, though whisset mr. lighthouse or and the rest. It takes a while, especially when you're, starting with something that is a non-starter and that's what the trump administration gives a non start. So ifyou want to talk about the time, just understand the change that was necessary in that and had to be made in the agreement. That treaty, not just what we would do in our implementing legislation, which is our own discussions, but what we had to actually i found it to be relatively short. Perhaps you haven't been around here. That was something so intense heat it and long. This was really quite easy compared to that and as the chairman said, this can be what we want.

It was not only to inch our way to a place that we would. We wanted to take it to another place where it could be a template for future trade. Agreementsthat a standard was set in terms of work and how we respect our own legislative pop up process here, as well as how we saved it. Whatever you want to say, there is a direct connection between three trade and the environment. You.

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