News that the leaders of the United States, Canada and Mexico have signed a rewrite of their trade agreement isn't sitting well with congressional Republicans, for a variety of reasons.
The new pact, called the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), was signed Friday in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and -- on his last day in office -- by Mexico President Enrique Peña Nieto. The three leaders are in Argentina for the meeting of the G-20.
The trade agreement -- which would replace the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) -- now moves to Congress and the legislative bodies of Mexico and Canada for ratification, but several congressional Republicans in the United States have already signaled they are unhappy with some of the agreement's provisions.
U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn was among the first Friday to denounce the agreement's language on sexual orientation and gender identity, which he referred to as SOGI.
"I am deeply disappointed that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative bowed to Canada's wishes in including SOGI language for the first time in a trade deal," said Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs. "While the language has been modified to try to limit the force of the language, the fact that it included at all is unacceptable. This step is entirely out of sync with President Trump's good work in undoing troubling Obama-era regulations and policies.
"Congress should decide social policy, including issues of civil rights, protected classes, and workplace rights. Instead, unelected bureaucrats and foreign leaders are forcing SOGI policy on us. This is an assault on United States sovereignty and a dangerous precedent for future trade agreements," Lamborn wrote.
Lamborn was the chief author of a letter sent to Trump earlier this month, signed by 45 House Republicans, that demanded the language on sexual orientation and gender identity be removed.
In an editorial penned for the National Review Thursday, James Dobson, founder of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, wrote that the language "requires the parties to protect workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and to promote 'equality' in these areas. ... Such edicts often run headlong into the constitutional right of religious business owners not to violate their core beliefs."
As to the provisions on trade itself, the agreement has drawn the ire of Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
"As currently drafted this deal will put Florida seasonal vegetable growers out of business," Rubio tweeted. "It allows Mexico to dump government subsidized produce on the U.S. market. Going forward America will depend on Mexico for our winter vegetables. Unacceptable."
But there could be some good news for Colorado agriculture from the USMCA, according to Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Don Brown.
While he has yet to see the final agreement, he told Colorado Politics that earlier versions signaled changes that could benefit both Colorado's dairy and wheat producers.
One entails the removal of two restrictions imposed by Canada on skim milk and other milk products. The other change allows U.S. wheat for export to Canada to be graded the same way Canadian wheat is graded, which impacts both wheat used for animal feed and milling wheat, which is used in flour.