By Rep. Dusty Johnson
November 26, 2019
Eight days. That’s how many working days the U.S. House of Representatives has left this year to pass major legislation.
Eight days to pass a budget and eight days to finalize the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). For context, President Trump finalized the USMCA trade agreement with our allies on November 30, 2018 – a year ago.
Am I surprised it’s taken over a year for Congress to act on a trade agreement that would add $68 billion to our nation’s GDP and more than 176,000 jobs? I hate to admit it, but no.
Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters she’s uncertain the House will take up the USMCA before the end of the year. This is unacceptable. Our producers need the certainty the USMCA will provide, and our negotiators with China need reassurance that Congress is serious about passing new trade deals.
The president and the administration did its job – it’s past time the Speaker of the House does hers. We need to bring the USMCA up for a vote now.
Our allies are waiting on us. Mexico’s Senate passed the USMCA in June – it took them three weeks to pass the deal. Now Mexico’s leadership has sent a letter urging the Speaker to pass the agreement. Canada stands ready to sign when the United States signals we’ve reached an agreement amongst ourselves. There is strong bipartisan support for the USMCA, and despite the lengthy waiting period, the Speaker and the Democratic Ways and Means Committee Chairman continue to hold up the USMCA in congressional negotiations. We shouldn’t leave our allies hanging.
South Dakota exported $924 million worth of manufacturing and agriculture products to Canada and Mexico last year. According to the United States Trade Representative, Canada and Mexico are the first and third largest export markets for American producers – expanding these markets will only benefit the nation.
There’s little disagreement – the USMCA is a far better deal than the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). NAFTA was put in place more than twenty-four years ago. The USMCA will provide the United States, Canada, and Mexico with the 21st century agreement our countries need.
This new agreement opens up new markets to dairy, poultry, and eggs – access our dairy producers desperately need. Delaying a vote on the USMCA is purely political. As we head into an election year, more partisan politics are the last thing we need.
I came to Washington because there is meaningful work to get done, and I still believe that to be true. Congress should pass the USMCA before the end of the year – I will continue to work to make sure that happens.