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Pass the USMCA

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada agreement (USMCA) is the trade deal President Trump negotiated to replace and improve upon the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement—NAFTA. The three countries signed it nearly one year ago, but it has yet to be ratified by the U.S. Congress. This agreement would be beneficial not only for our national economy, but also the economy of our state which relies heavily on agriculture.

Once the USMCA is finalized, it will create additional access for U.S. agricultural products and manufactured goods into Canada and Mexico, two of our closest allies and top trading partners. Trade with the two countries supports 37,700 jobs in South Dakota. Last year, South Dakota exported $924 million of goods and ag products to Canada and Mexico. With net farm income down 50 percent since 2013, low commodity prices, trade instability with China and extreme weather conditions, South Dakota farmers and ranchers are suffering. Ag producers across the country are in the same situation. Finalizing this trade agreement would provide all of them with some much-needed relief. It would also benefit manufacturers and small businesses. For example, the USMCA includes language that would require automobile components to be at least 75 percent manufactured in the U.S., Mexico or Canada to qualify for zero tariffs.

Currently, the USMCA is awaiting a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives. Instead of taking up this important win for American workers and families, House Democrats are more intent on launching partisan attacks and engaging in political theater. There’s no reason we can’t get this done before the end of the year. I’m confident that once the USMCA passes the House, the Senate would take it up in short order. While the House continues to send over partisan legislation that has very little chance of passing the Senate, the USMCA stands as an opportunity for a bipartisan, bicameral win. It has strong support from both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, which would help it to pass quickly if it were brought up for a vote. The agreement also has wide support across the country. According to a Morning Consult poll, a majority of Americans want to see the USMCA ratified. I continue to urge Speaker Pelosi to bring it up for a vote.

Ratifying the USMCA should not be a Republican or Democrat issue—it will help the economy in all parts of the country, no matter if it’s a “red” or “blue” district. With the House currently focused on impeaching President Trump, I have concerns about their ability to work on anything bipartisan, like the USMCA.

I came to Washington to get things done. We have already made significant steps to improve our economy through deregulation, historic tax reform and Dodd-Frank reform. However, improving and finalizing trade agreements will be key to reaching our full economic potential. I’m going to keep pushing Speaker Pelosi and the House to take a vote on the USMCA as soon as possible, for the sake of South Dakota producers and manufacturers.