President Donald Trump’s Administration is expected to speed up the procedural steps necessary for a Congressional vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), media outlets report.
Trump should issue a “statement of administrative action” soon, Reuters reported.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that was “not a positive step,” Reuters said, adding she wanted more time for lawmakers to review the agreement.
The Republican National Committee has questioned why Democrats under the leadership of Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) are holding up USMCA. Pelosi said Mexico must change its labor laws, while Schumer said there are “outstanding issues.”
The stakes are high for Minnesota.
Canada and Mexico buy nearly $2 billion of Minnesota food products a year, triple its ag and food exports before NAFTA, Tamara Nelsen wrote for the StarTribune.
U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN-07) last October said:
“I am pleased to see the NAFTA renegotiation take one step closer to a possible conclusion, and I look forward to reviewing the agreement in full as Congress takes up its passage. Dairy and poultry are huge concerns for me, and I am encouraged with the access and provisions it appears we’ve secured in this agreement. While this agreement does not end Canada’s supply management policies, this agreement includes provisions that will help dairy farmers in Minnesota and nationwide with less trade distorting exports during the current downturn in the farm economy. I hope the administration will use the momentum from this NAFTA deal to make progress in bringing the trade war with China to a productive end.”
Earlier in May, Peterson said: I welcomed Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe during his visit to the U.S. Capitol. We discussed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the recently announced news that the United States was lifting Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum on the two countries. I remain an early supporter of USMCA and hope Congress will begin consideration of the trade deal soon.”
His counterpart U.S. Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN-02) in May attacked USMCA, according to Fox 21. She said the agreement impacts farmers and iron and steel industries.
“Soy bean farmers in my district and across the country know that this trade war is doing serious damage to their bottom line and the markets that they worked decades to build,” Craig said.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) is no fan of NAFTA. She says she wants to “invest in a robust Trade Adjustment Assistance program that provides support for workers who have lost their jobs due to the impact of trade; eliminate NAFTA’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) that empower corporations to attack environmental and public health protections; and add strong, enforceable environmental and labor standards to the core text of NAFTA’s agreement.”
Last August, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) criticized USMCA negotiations, which she led to tariff-related costs to American allies. She said NAFTA has harmed farmers.
U.S. Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) expressed concern that USMCA would lock in high prescription costs.
Republicans also have spoken out on USMCA.
U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-MN-01) in April touted the benefits of USMCA during the Farmers for Free Trade Event.
“Our farmers face too many regulations, high input costs, uncertainty and trade barriers. Since taking office in January, I have been a tireless champion for our agriculturally-dependent region. I’ve petitioned administration officials to fight for our farmers in trade deals, including conversations with Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and President Trump himself.
“When I spoke with President Trump during his recent visit to Minnesota, the President reassured me that he and his administration are doing all possible to eliminate trade barriers and expand export opportunities for America’s farmers and agriculture-businesses.
“The USMCA will help farmers, small businesses and more. After President Trump submits the agreement to Congress for consideration, it is imperative for Speaker Nancy Pelosi to schedule a vote. I encourage my colleagues, both Republicans and Democrats, to join me in supporting this commonsense and constructive deal. Trade solutions with Mexico, Canada, Japan, China and others, will give southern Minnesota great economic stability for the future.”
U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN-06) last July said NAFTA has created strain on Minnesota’s exports, especially to Mexico, with exports there decreasing 13 percent.
U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN-08) said USMCA does not pit farmers against steel workers, Fox Business said.
– – –
Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.
Photo “Collin Peterson” by Collin Peterson. Photo “Ilhan Omar” by Ilhan Omar. Background Photo “NAFTA Flag” by Nicoguaro. CC BY 3.0.