USMCA goes to Senate after House passes bill

February 2020

Tyson Fisher

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Editor’s note: President Donald Trump signed the USMCA into law on Wednesday, Jan. 29. Read more here.

More than one year after the U.S., Mexico and Canada reached a trilateral trade agreement, the House of Representatives passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement by a wide margin.

On Dec. 19, the House overwhelmingly passed USMCA with a 385-41 vote. Votes against USMCA came from 38 Democrats, two Republicans and one independent. However, five House members did not cast a vote.

As a result, the bill moved to the Senate, where the Finance Committee advanced the legislation on Jan. 7 with a 25-3 vote. As of press time, the full Senate had not scheduled a vote on the bill. If passed by the Senate, the bill will go to President Donald Trump’s desk to be signed into law.

Regarding trucking-related issues, the provisions included in the final text submitted on Dec. 13 remained. One additional provision was included.

According to the USMCA text passed by the House, a representative of a U.S. long-haul trucking services industry, the U.S. trade representative, a congressional committee or the president can request an investigation. The investigation will determine whether a Mexican carrier is causing material harm to a United States long-haul trucking services industry.

When making that determination, the International Trade Commission will consider at least two factors:

  • Volume/tonnage of cargo.
  • Employment, wages, hours of service and working conditions.

“Material harm” is defined as “a significant loss in the share of the United States market or relevant submarket for cross-border long-haul trucking services held by persons of the United States.”

Furthermore, Mexican carriers that have already been granted cross-border authority or have applied for authority are not off the hook.

According to USMCA section 327, the U.S. Department of Transportation will compile a survey of those carriers to ensure compliance of the Border Commercial Zones.

Those two provisions, the investigation and survey, were firmly in the text the House Democrats agreed to on

Dec. 10. Since then, language regarding Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations for Mexican carriers has been added. Investigation and survey provisions explicitly refer to Mexican-based carriers and do not include Canadian carriers.

More specifically, USMCA will require the U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general to make sure Mexican carriers adhere to FMCSA regulations. Within 60 days of the filing of the above-mentioned survey, the inspector general will review the “procedures and actions taken by the secretary of transportation to determine whether each Mexico-domiciled motor carrier with any operating authority … is in compliance with applicable federal motor carrier safety laws and regulations,” according to a statement of administrative action accompanying the final USMCA text.

In a news release, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association applauded the House for approving USMCA.

“For far too long, we have seen our members suffer from foreign companies taking away jobs and profits from drivers in the U.S.,” said OOIDA President Todd Spencer.

In fact, OOIDA had a hand in shaping the bill. During negotiations, the Association has worked with the United States trade representative, members of Congress to update NAFTA’s trucking-related provisions “that continue to harm American small-business motor carriers and jeopardize highway safety,” OOIDA stated in a news release.

“This will hopefully prevent Mexico-domiciled carriers that are exploiting our laws from operating on U.S. highways, which has significantly lowered wages for American drivers across numerous segments of trucking,” Spencer said. LL

Tyson Fisher

Tyson Fisher joined Land Line Magazine in March 2014. An award-winning journalist and tireless researcher, his news reports, features and blogs bring depth to our editorial content, backed with solid detail. Tyson is a lifelong Kansas Citian.