(CNSNews.com) - Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he plans to vote against the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement because "we could do much better than a Trump-led trade deal."
"And given the fact that climate change is right now the greatest threat facing this planet, I will not vote for a trade agreement that does not incorporate very, very strong principles to significantly lower fossil fuel emissions in the world," Sanders said at the CNN-hosted debate in Iowa.
Sanders argued that the USMCA will continue outsourcing good-paying jobs:
The heart and soul of our disastrous trade agreements — and I'm the guy who voted against NAFTA and against permanent normal trade relations with China — is that we have forced American workers to compete against people in Mexico, in China, elsewhere, who earn starvation wages, $1 or $2 an hour.
Second of all, every major environmental organization has said no to this new trade agreement because it does not even have the phrase "climate change" in it. And given the fact that climate change is right now the greatest threat facing this planet, I will not vote for a trade agreement that does not incorporate very, very strong principles to significantly lower fossil fuel emissions in the world.
The moderator told Sanders that the AFL-CIO supports the USMCA:
"The AFL-CIO does," Sanders agreed. "The Machinists Union does not. And every environmental organization in this country, including the Sunrise Organization, who are supporting my candidacy, opposes it.
"So I happen to believe — and I hope we will talk about climate change in a moment — if we do not get our act together in terms of climate change, the planet that we're going to be leaving our kids and our children — and our grandchildren will be increasingly unlivable and uninhabitable."
Sanders said the issues of climate change and trade are "the same."
In a follow-up response, Sanders said it's "not so easy" to put together new trade legislation. He said to do it right, all stakeholders must come to the table, including "family farmers," the "environmental community," and workers -- and he listed them in that order.
"Bottom line here is, I am sick and tired of trade agreements negotiated by the CEOs of large corporations behind doors."
Vice President Joe Biden agreed with Sanders on one point: "There will be no trade agreements signed in my administration without environmentalists and labor at the table," Biden said.
Biden also agreed with Sanders on "corporate responsibility."
Sanders said he would use the power of the federal contracting system: "If a corporation in America wants to shut down in Iowa or Vermont or any place else, and then they think they're going to get on line for our generous federal contract, they've got another thing going.
"We need some corporate responsibility here and we need to protect good-paying jobs in America, not see them go to China, Mexico, Vietnam, and all these other countries."
Biden, asked for his response, said: "We need corporate responsibility, and I agree with that completely. But we also need to have enforcement mechanisms in the agreements we make. Enforceable agreements. That's one of the things that has been improved with the trade agreement with Mexico. And that's what we should be doing in any agreement we have."