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Sanders touts vote against Trump trade deal backed by primary rivals

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) touted his Thursday vote against President Trump‘s North American trade deal that was supported by several of the other candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Sanders was the sole senator running in the Democratic presidential primary to vote against the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which passed the Senate on Thursday by a vote of 89-10. The deal, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement, passed the Democratic-controlled House by a vote of 385-41 in December.

“As one of the only candidates opposing Trump’s trade deal, I want to thank Sen. @ChuckSchumer [D-N.Y.] for joining this fight,” Sanders said in a Thursday tweet praising the Senate minority leader’s vote against USMCA.

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“USMCA will make climate change worse. We will do better when I’m president.”

Trump secured strong Democratic support for the agreement by including stronger labor law enforcement measures, scrapping protections on high-cost pharmaceuticals, and other provisions meant to protect American workers.

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The changes were enough to win over several of Trump’s Democratic challengers who’ve opposed prior trade deals, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.).

Warren, like other progressives backing USMCA, called the deal a solid step toward rewriting trade agreements to empower workers.

“We need a different approach to trade and it starts with the corruption of the giant corporations,” Warren said during Tuesday night’s Democratic primary debate.

But Sanders joined eight Democrats, including Schumer, in opposition to the agreement over a lack of environmental safeguards and insufficient measures to stop the outsourcing of U.S. jobs.

“We need to fundamentally rewrite our disastrous trade agreements and create and protect good-paying American jobs,” Sanders said Wednesday in remarks on the Senate floor.

Sanders’s opposition to USMCA draws a key distinction between himself and Warren, his chief rival for progressive primary voters, with less than three weeks until the Iowa caucuses. While Sanders and Warren are ideologically aligned on most issues, Sanders has sought to distinguish himself as the most progressive candidate running to unseat Trump.

Sanders’s vote also provoked a rebuke from Trump’s reelection campaign, elevating the senators’ opposition.

“Socialist Bernie Sanders just proudly voted AGAINST new jobs and higher wages for Americans workers,” the Trump campaign wrote in an email to supporters. 

“Sanders is willing to sacrifice blue-collar jobs and better wages, even as he enjoys flying fossil fuel burning private jets on an almost daily basis,” the email continued. 

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