MOUNT AYR, Iowa – U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, met with twenty constituents at a meet and greet held at Jamie’s Coffee Mill & Deli on Saturday morning. Axne said the stop was part of her commitment to visit every county in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District every month during her first term in office.
After giving her update to the group, she was asked why the U.S. House of Representatives have not voted on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) the new trade deal that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that was signed in 1992.
“We are very close to getting this done,” Axne said.
She explained that there are ongoing negotiations between AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, the Trump Administration, and a Congressional working group. She stated that Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, asked both U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, and herself attend a meeting with Trumka.
“The Speaker wants to get it to yes, and the reason she had me come was so I personally could talk to Trumka,” Axne said noting she spoke with him about how the trade deal is needed for states like Iowa.
“I’m out here working hard to make sure rural America has what it needs and that we are serving it’s farmers,” she added.
Axne said she was the one who opened up the investigation into the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Trump Administration’s issuance of Renewal Fuel Standard (RFS) waivers. She said she has been talking about trade and pushing the USCMA through.
“The Speaker wants to get to yes,” Axne stated again. “And she absolutely wants this trade deal to get done, and she was behind NAFTA and so Trumka is the one who needs… He is almost there with labor piece, he says we are on the seven-yard line.”
She said Trumka wants a “stick” in order to ensure that Mexico and Canada implement similar labor regulations as the United States.
“The labor (piece) looks really good, the writing of it, but the regulatory oversight of the labor isn’t there,” she explained. “Our concern with labor is that we put great policy in place which this trade agreement does and I am glad we are working on a great trade agreement which says they have got to have a certain amount of folks to oversee mediation and grievances by employees. They have got to have a certain amount of people who are in the manufacturing facilities making sure that regulations are followed, that type of thing. That’s all in the language. The problem is that there is no ‘stick’ to make it happen. And that’s where labor is concerned.”
“What they want to see is a stick, and specifically this, if we can get this resolved, everything is going to be good with that. What they would like to see is if a product that was supposed to be made with those labor regulations, meeting certain requires such as how employees are treated, work hours, pay, et cetera, environmental regulations, et cetera. If that product is produced and then gets to our border and (we) realize that it didn’t come from, it didn’t meet those standards then we don’t accept the product and that it goes back to Mexico,” Axne said.
“And that is the piece they really want to get through. That is the piece is the stick that is going to hold them to those regulatory, labor pieces,” she stated.
Axne also explained that the House did not get the working material for the agreement until right before their July recess.
She was also pressed on impeachment which several of Axne’s constituents didn’t think it was the best use of House of Representatives time and wondered why Axne supported the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
“What I’m for is doing the hard work for the people of this district. I didn’t run for this seat to impeach the president. Go back and check my 18 months of running for this office there is nothing in there about that,” she responded.
Watch the video of the entire meet and greet below: