House Democrats announce deal reached on USMCA.
Photo Credit: U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne’s office

House Democrats and the White House reached a deal on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) that would allow the U.S. House of Representatives to move forward to vote on the trade agreement that will replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

House Democrats delayed a vote on the deal until there was an agreement adding enforcement provisions on labor practices, in particular within Mexico, and penalties for non-compliance.

Iowa’s elected officials responded to the news.

“Mexico and Canada are Iowa’s top two trading partners and are critical to our economy. It’s why I have been calling on Congress to ratify USMCA for over a year,” Governor Kim Reynolds said in a released statement.

“Today’s announcement represents a positive step forward for Iowa’s entire economy. USMCA is a strong, balanced, and modern trade agreement that will create opportunities for Iowa families, farmers, manufacturers, and small businesses by expanding markets for our world-class exports,” she said. “I want to thank President Trump, Ambassador Lighthizer, and the entire administration for their steadfast leadership on this issue.”

U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, also criticized how long it took for a deal to be reached.

“Iowans in every corner of our state have been waiting far too long for Congress to act on the USMCA and now, after months of delay, House Democrats are finally coming on board.President Trump and our Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer negotiated this modernized agreement with our nation’s farmers and workers in mind–knowing the USMCA will provide an economic boon and certainty to folks back home. I’ll be reviewing the updated language, and I’m hopeful we’ll be able to put politics aside and give the hardworking men and women across Iowa and this great nation a huge win,” she said.

U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also offered comment.

“This is long overdue but very welcome news. I’m glad a deal has finally been reached. I look forward to reviewing the specific language soon and expect committee members will be briefed in person by USTR this week,” he said. “Passage of USMCA will be a significant win for farmers, workers and all Americans. Renegotiating NAFTA was a central campaign promise made by President Trump. He kept his word and Americans will enjoy the many benefits of this upgraded trade deal as a result. The nation’s economy under President Trump has achieved historic levels of employment and wages are finally growing after years of stagnation. This trade deal will help create even more jobs and make us stronger as a country. I applaud President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer for their hard work and commitment.”

U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer, D-Iowa, took a shot at President Donald Trump’s use of tariffs.

“The deal that democrats secured today through the Trade Representative, working with Canada and Mexico, provides certainty to our farmers that the president won’t pull out of NAFTA or close down the border, as he has dangerously threatened to do. It also ensures we can enforce labor and environmental standards that will protect Iowa jobs, and eliminates a provision in the original USMCA that would have locked in high prescription drug prices for years to come,” she said.

“While this is a historic update to an important trade deal with our largest trading partners, I will continue to focus on issues that are hurting our agriculture and manufacturing economy in Iowa. As we still lack any agreement or certainty in markets with China for our soybean farmers and manufacturers, and have seen the devastating effects of this administration siding with big oil over our corn growers, I remain as concerned as I was yesterday about the future of our economy in Iowa. I hope our Governor and Senators will join me in my urgency to the Trump administration to not ignore what we see happening on the ground and in our communities in Iowa from bankruptcy to ethanol plant closures, we cannot let up,” Finkenauer added.

U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, said that he was pleased with the deal that was reached.

“I am pleased that the negotiators have come to an agreement on a new trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada. Throughout this process, I have fought the offshoring of Iowa jobs and have been closely monitoring the negotiations to ensure Iowa’s workers, farmers and manufacturing companies are protected. In the end, this agreement contains many components that I have said must be included, such as robust enforcement mechanisms, strong rights for workers, high standards for the environment and preserving Congress’s power to improve access to affordable prescriptions. The President’s Twitter Trade War has harmed farmers and manufactures, and I’m hopeful this agreement will finally provide them with the certainty they need. Now, it is critical that these provisions be accurately reflected in the final text and that Iowa’s working families will be the ones benefitting from this deal,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, praised the USMCA deal.

“I am pleased that the USMCA is ready,” she said. “I have long been an advocate for getting this agreement done so our farmers and manufacturers can have certainty in our two largest markets. Farmers have had a tough few years, with a harmful trade war, devastating weather and a RFS being undermined by the EPA. This agreement would provide certainty for farmers and producers by ending the threat of back and forth retaliatory tariffs that this administration has pursued. I am thankful that the House Working Group and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer​ worked in good faith and negotiated a better deal for all Americans and did so before the year end.”

U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, pointed out that the USMCA deal announcement was made within an hour of House Democrats announcing articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

“They didn’t want to face the criticism of the American people. And, so, they decided that after this long saga from July 9th, when the President offered the USMCA treaty, all this way up until this date in December, they’ve been sitting there as a ‘Do Nothing Congress’ except for co-opting Congress to impeach the President. That’s an Abuse of Power!” he said.

“They decided ‘O.K., we’re gonna put impeachment and USMCA in the same hour’ because they can’t face the criticism of the American people on what they (House Democrats) have done and what they (House Democrats) are about to do,” King remarked.

“I’m glad we’ve got USMCA moving. The President’s doing his job. His economic numbers are great. Our national security is strong,” he added.” “But what they’ve [House Democrats] done to this Constitution, and then to try to cover it over with the frosting of USMCA on top of it, it is appalling. It’s an insult, at least to the people of the Heart of the Heartland who always know better.”

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