In a letter written on November 16th, a group of Republican law makers led by Rep. Doug Lamborn (Colorado) say they are “deeply concerned by the unprecedented inclusion” of protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation in the president’s new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The new deal, which is set to be signed on November 30th, would replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that was negotiated by the Clinton administration. The group is urging the president to remove the inclusive language before signing the agreement.
“A trade agreement is no place for the adoption of social policy,” the letter states. “It is especially inappropriate and insulting to our sovereignty to needlessly submit to social policies which the United States Congress has so far explicitly refused to accept.”
What has the GOP up in arms is section 23.9 of the agreement, which contains the following language regarding sex-based discrimination in the workplace:
"The Parties recognize the goal of eliminating sex-based discrimination in employment and occupation, and support the goal of promoting equality of women in the workplace. Accordingly, each Party shall implement policies that protect workers against employment discrimination on the basis of sex, including with regard to pregnancy, sexual harassment, sexual orientation, gender identity, and caregiving responsibilities, provide job-protected leave for birth or adoption of a child and care of family members, and protect against wage discrimination."
According to a report by Politico, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was behind the push for the protections to be added.
“We got to a good agreement that I think represents Canadian values, Canadian approach, but also values that are broadly shared amongst citizens of our three countries,” Trudeau was quoted as saying at a summit with Asia-Pacific leaders.
There are already growing concerns as there is no indication regarding how the protections would be enforced. Both the United States and Canada have said the provisions would not require any new laws to be written.
Another roadblock to the agreement is that once the agreement is signed, it then requires congressional approval, and there is currently a lack of support from both Democratic and now Republican Representatives.
A spokesperson for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) called the letter “despicable.”
Here are the Representatives who signed the letter:
Rep. Alex X. Mooney - West Virginia
Rep. Lamar Smith - Texas
Rep. Barry Loudermilk - Georgia
Rep. Bob Gibbs- Ohio
Rep. Brian Babin – Texas
Rep. Bruce Westerman - Arkansas
Rep. Daniel Webster - Florida
Rep. Debbie Lesko - Arizona
Rep. Diane Black - Tennessee
Rep. Doug LaMalfa - California
Rep. Doug Lamborn – Colorado
Rep. Gary Palmer - Alabama
Rep. Glenn Grothman - Wisconsin
Rep. Jeff Duncan - South Carolina
Rep. Jody Hice - Georgia
Rep. Joe Barton - Texas
Rep. K. Michael Conaway - Texas
Rep. Louie Gohmert - Texas
Rep. Mark Meadows - North Carolina
Rep. Matt Gaetz - Florida
Rep. Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. - Arizona
Rep. Ralph Abraham, M.D., - Louisiana
Rep. Ralph Norman - South Carolina
Rep. Randy Hultgren - Illinois
Rep. Richard Hudson - North Carolina
Rep. Steve King - Iowa
Rep. Steven M. Palazzo - Mississippi
Rep. Ted S. Yoho, DVM – Florida
Rep. Tim Walberg - Michigan
Rep. Tom McClintock - California
Rep. Vicky Hartzler - Missouri
Rep. Virginia Foxx - North Carolina
Rep. Walter B. Jones - North Carolina
Rep. Andy Harris, M.D. – Maryland
Rep. Mark Walker - North Carolina
Rep. Randy K. Weber - Texas
Rep. Rick Crawford - Arkansas
Rep. Robert B. Aderholt – Alabama
Representatives Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) and Roger Williams (R-Texas) had their names on the letter, but their signatures were left blank.