WASHINGTON — U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, both Texas Republicans, joined with most of their colleagues from both sides of the aisle to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a new North American trade deal.
The new USCMA deal, negotiated by President Donald Trump, will replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Among other changes, the new trade deal will strengthen enforcement of labor and environmental laws and increase the threshold for how much of a car must be manufactured in a country to avoid tariffs.
"This deal is a win for Texas farmers, ranchers, businesses, and manufacturers, and will ensure greater economic opportunity for every American," Cruz said in a statement after the vote.
The deal is of particular importance to Texas, which has the most ports and the longest border with another country of any state in the contiguous United States.
Trade is uniquely fundamental to Texas' economy, compared with most other regions in the country. The state is the largest exporter — and second-largest importer — of international goods, according to Michigan State University. Mexico and Canada are Texas' largest trading partners, with the state exporting $110 billion and $28 billion in goods, respectively, to the two countries, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
The Senate overwhelmingly backed the bill in a 89-10 vote Thursday. The House passed the USMCA bill with an overwhelming bipartisan majority last month.
Cruz's and Cornyn's support for the bill marks a rare occurrence for the Texas delegation: unanimous support on a major piece of legislation. Texas House Democrats and Republicans uniformly backed the deal in the December vote.
Even so, Texans complained that it wasn't perfect.
While applauding the deal, Cruz also expressed frustration that it did not address what he perceived as "Big Tech’s pattern of political bias and censorship."
Similarly, U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, a Democrat who represents part of the Rio Grande Valley, published an op-ed Thursday criticizing the deal for not including provisions that will force Mexico to better secure tourism and trade routes amid increased violence. Gonzalez wrote that his "requests to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and the Mexican government to consider including security in the agreement were snubbed, asserting that the agreement was about trade not security."
The new trade deal awaits both Trump's signature, which is expected to come next week, and eventual passage in Canada. Mexico's government ratified the deal last summer.
This legislation is the last major piece of lawmaking the Senate will address before it spends the next several weeks focused on the impeachment trial.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Texas is the state with the longest border with another country, which is only true in the contiguous U.S. The story also misstated the Senate vote count on the measure. The Senate approved the agreement 89-10.