By: Dana Ferguson
ST. PAUL — U.S. House Democrats on Dec. 10 announced they’d struck a deal with the White House to accept a new iteration of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The news broke a months-long disagreement about labor, climate and prescription drug provisions in the trade deal that kept Democrats in leadership from advancing the proposal. And leaders on both sides of the political aisle celebrated the move as a win.
In Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, elected officials and agriculture and manufacturing groups celebrated the news and urged rapid approval of the trade deal. Exports to Canada and Mexico from the three states exceeded $12 billion annually and the two countries represent the top export consumers for each state.
President Donald Trump on the campaign trail promised to get rid of NAFTA and to put in place a new, better trade agreement. He struck a deal last year with Canada and Mexico to move forward with an updated version, deemed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, but Democrats in control of the House had found issues with the measure and help up its ratification.
Now, with some of the changes that they wanted in place, House leaders have said they expect a vote this week. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said he’d wait to vote in that chamber until after impeachment hearings ended. Canada and Mexico would also have to ratify the agreement.
Here’s what elected officials and others had to say about the news:
Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R, 1st District: “As the first member of the MN delegation to support USMCA, I am thrilled a bipartisan agreement has been reached to facilitate a House vote and finally deliver this much-needed and well-deserved win to our workers, businesses, farmers and families,” Hagedorn said on Facebook. “Congratulations to President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer for all their great work and success.”
Rep. Angie Craig, D, 2nd District: “After working with the administration to ensure the new US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement protected American workers and did not raise drug prices, I’m proud to announce we have reached a final agreement that supports farmers and bolsters our economy,” Craig said on Twitter. “I plan to vote yes on USMCA.”
Rep. Dean Phillips, D, 3rd District: “I’m on a mission to restore Americans’ faith in our government, and the USMCA deal we announced today is exactly how our process should work,” Phillips said in a news release. “Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the White House, businesses, and labor organizations came together to forge a strong and solvent deal that is good for everyone.”
Rep. Tom Emmer, D, 6th District: “It’s about time,” Emmer said on Twitter.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D, 7th District: “I have been pushing for months to get this deal to the finish line, and this announcement is great news for farmers, businesses and workers, in Western Minnesota and nationwide,” Peterson said. “Rural America has faced many hurdles and challenges with these trade wars, and passing the USMCA is a step in the right direction.”
Rep. Pete Stauber, R, 8th District: “Today’s announcement of an agreement is great news for our nation, and long overdue. While President Trump negotiated this critical trade deal over a year ago, Speaker Pelosi delayed the vote on the USMCA in pursuit of partisan impeachment,” Stauber said. “After months of relentless advocacy from House Republicans, I am relieved Speaker Pelosi finally did the right thing for the nation and agreed to move forward with the USMCA.”
Agriculture and food groups
American Farm Bureau Federation: “We urge members of Congress to swiftly approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Agriculture is at a critical crossroads with the downturn in commodity prices, losses from natural disasters and the trade war,” Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said. “This is an opportunity for Congress not only to help U.S. farmers and ranchers turn the corner on trade, but also show that Washington can still get things done on a bipartisan basis.”
Midwest Food Products Association: “We trust this development will now pave the way for final approval of USMCA quickly, which will benefit food manufacturers, American agriculture and consumers,” Jason Culotta said.
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce: “On behalf of our members, we hope this paves the way for final agreement,” Chamber President Doug Loon said. “Trade with our North American partners means prosperity for Minnesota farmers, manufacturers, small businesses and their employees. This agreement will create confidence in the markets and create new opportunities for workers across a range of industries.”
National Corn Growers Association: “NCGA appreciates the bipartisan efforts between Speaker Pelosi, Ambassador Lighthizer and the House working group to reach an agreement,” the group’s president Kevin Ross said. “I urge lawmakers to pass USMCA and help us close out 2019 with a win for America’s farmers and the U.S. economy.”