North American trade pact passes first Senate hurdle

The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the new North American Free Trade Agreement, including a yes vote from U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, which will send the trade pact to the floor of the Senate for a full vote in the coming weeks.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement was voted out of the finance committee by a vote of 25 to 3.

“This is a good agreement. It is not a perfect agreement,” Cornyn said in his remarks at the committee hearing. “And on net, I think it deserves my support.”

In his remarks, Cornyn mentioned improvements coming to the southern border: “It will provide needed infrastructure along the border, as well.”

While NAFTA, which was implemented in 1994 and transformed the Rio Grande Valley economy, will be replaced by a new acronym, officials have said foundational components of the original trade deal will remain in place.

The legislation came to the Senate from the U.S. House, which approved the deal a week before Christmas. The three U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar, Vicente Gonzalez and Filemon Vela from the Rio Grande Valley all approved the deal.

Cornyn, meanwhile, has predicted that the USMCA should sail through the Senate. However, once the articles of impeachment are transmitted from the House to the Senate, that could cause some complications, Cornyn said in December.

“I’m worried that we’re going to run out of time,” Cornyn told reporters on a conference call in December. He added: “Once the articles of impeachment come over to the Senate, we can’t do anything else.”