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Democratic Lawmaker Leads Bipartisan Effort to Repeal NAFTA

A Democratic congressman from Mississippi introduced bipartisan legislation Thursday that would provide for the withdrawal of the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Rep. Gene Taylor, who also serves on the House Armed Services Committee, called the 29 percent loss of jobs in US manufacturing since 1993 a matter of national defense and pointed to a number of companies who have moved their production to Mexico as cause for concern.

The agreement was signed by the governments of the United States, Canada and Mexico and implemented in 1994, and was designed to promote free trade between the three North American countries.

Twenty-six members of Congress have already signed onto the plan to abandon NAFTA, including Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak.

"The trade deficit with Mexico and Canada has quadrupled since NAFTA went into effect," he said.

Indeed, lawmakers came armed with numbers to support their argument -- figures that showed the U.S. enjoyed a $1.7 billion dollar trade surplus with Mexico in 1993, before NAFTA, compared to a $47.5 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico in 2009.

President Obama criticized NAFTA during the 2008 presidential election, insisting, "trade policies are not sustainable if they favor the few, rather than the many." 

But the administration has so far been reluctant to follow through on any threats to withdraw from the agreement.

Asked why the legislation was introduced now after similar efforts have failed in the past, Taylor said, "At a time when 10 to 12 percent of the American people are unemployed, I think Congress has an obligation to put people back to work."