Calling President Trump’s proposed revision of the North American Free Trade Agreement “NAFTA 2.0,” Rep. Jared Golden of Maine joined a handful of Democratic colleagues in vowing to oppose the deal without major changes.

Jared Golden

“Putting a new paint job on the old NAFTA won’t work,” the 2nd District congressman from Lewiston said in a statement. “Without significant changes to this proposal, Maine will see the last two decades repeated: closed mills, outsourced jobs, and stagnant wages.”

Trump urged Congress during his State of the Union speech this week to approve the revised pact he named the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

The president said NAFTA, approved a quarter century ago, was a “historic trade blunder” that his new deal would replace “and deliver for American workers: bringing back our manufacturing jobs, expanding American agriculture, protecting intellectual property, and ensuring that more cars are proudly stamped with four beautiful words: Made in the USA.”

There appears to be considerable skepticism on Capitol Hill among lawmakers of both parties who worry the deal signed in November doesn’t do enough to encourage trade, protect the environment or benefit working Americans.

Golden is one of six labor-friendly House Democrats who issued a statement this week taking issue with the president’s proposal.

“I agree with the president that NAFTA has failed working Americans,” Golden said. “But his NAFTA 2.0 proposal is more of the same.”

He said that if Trump “is serious about protecting American jobs, I’ll work with him to overhaul NAFTA so that it defends Maine workers and forces Canada and Mexico to play by the rules.”

Golden also demonstrated his support for labor’s position by inviting the head of the Maine AFL-CIO, Cynthia Phinney, to be his guest at Trump’s speech. The AFL-CIO is calling for a better deal for workers and the environment.

Also signing on to the statement opposing Trump’s proposal were Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Tim Ryan of Ohio, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Bill Pascrell of New Jersey and Marcy Kaptur of Ohio.

DeLauro, the most senior of the group, said Democrats “would be willing to support a deal that puts working people first by ending outsourcing incentives and sets forth a trade template that supports American workers. However, the text is simply not there yet.”

She expressed concern that Trump’s agreement “locks in monopoly rights for Big Pharma, effectively ensuring that drug prices will remain high by providing giveaways to pharmaceutical companies.”

The revised NAFTA deal sought by Trump left much of the existing framework in place, but also includes measures to open the Canadian market to U.S. dairy farmers, increase North American production of automobiles and vehicle parts, and provide American pharmaceutical companies with greater intellectual property rights in Canada.

Ryan said the deal “so far does not do enough to protect the hardworking men and women of my district.”

Schakowsky said the president’s proposal “will keep prescription drug costs high, and Americans will get poorer and sicker, as a result. Worse, it would tie Congress’ hands and prevent us from addressing the issue of drug costs.”

“This administration must work with House Democrats to improve labor standards and enforceability in the agreement before it can be considered for approval,” Pascrell said.

The renegotiated NAFTA doesn’t address some issues Maine companies have complained about, including tariffs on Canadian softwoods and steel, but would make it easier to make small retail sales to Canadian customers, something that would benefit firms such as L.L. Bean.

Maine exported $1.2 billion worth of products to Canada in 2017, nearly half of all the state’s exports.

Trump has talked about quitting NAFTA to force Congress to approve the renegotiated deal, but legislators from both parties have warned him the move would be counterproductive.

After a session between Senate Republicans and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer this week, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee that deals with trade issues, said Republican lawmakers told him withdrawing from NAFTA “would be a bad thing to do,” Reuters reported.