A local Congressman has been on the front lines of getting a new trade deal completed with Mexico and Canada. Congressman Darin LaHood, who serves on the House Ways & Means Committee, has been part of the re-negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The new trade bill called the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement or USMCA is something LaHood believes the House of Representatives should begin voting on now. “I’m on what’s called the whip team, the team that’s in charge of getting things passed legislatively in the House of Representatives. Overall, this agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the United States is a win for agriculture; it’s a win for manufacturing; it’s a win for all sectors of our economy. It’s going to equal jobs and opportunities for folks in my district whether it’s agriculture or other industries. We’ve got to get it across the finish line.”
LaHood says that the benefits for the U.S. Economy will be due in large part to the products farmers and manufacturers send over each of the U.S.’s borders. “40% of the products that we grow, produce, and manufacture in Illinois go to Mexico or Canada. 98% of the corn that Mexico imports comes from the United States, much of it from the Midwest. This new agreement is going to help accentuate that and again, create more opportunities in terms of getting rid of fees, getting rid of tariffs, getting rid of duties; making it a fair playing field for our products. Canada and Mexico are our two biggest trading partners.”
LaHood says that despite the Chinese trade agreements falling through, the USMCA isn’t being moved upon. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, he says is using the same tactic that Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell is using to not bring a vote to the floor on certain legislation. “Nancy Pelosi, who leads the Democrats, she has to make the decision to bring it to the floor and unfortunately not done that yet. This thing would have passed overwhelmingly in June if it had been brought to the floor. Unfortunately, politics have gotten in the way and Pelosi and some of the Democrats do not want to give the president a win so they won’t bring it to the floor. Now, I think the pressure on her is changing. I think over this August break, a lot of farmers, a lot of manufacturers, a lot people that are going to benefit have gotten to the Democrats. I’m cautiously optimistic that when we get back in September, it’ll get brought to the floor and we’ll get it passed. We need to do that. It’s a priority for me and I’m going to continue to work on it until it’s done.”
LaHood says that Mexico and Canada have both signed and passed their own legislation agreeing to the trade pact but it cannot go into effect unless the United States adopts it as well. LaHood says he doesn’t know where Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin stand on the bill yet. “I wish I was more optimistic about it. I don’t know that they have taken a stance on it yet. Remember, it has to pass the House first before the Senate can get it. I think it’s a little premature at this point to say anything. I wish elected officials in both the House and Senate would put politics aside and look how it effects agriculture in particular. Remember, ag is the number one industry in the State of Illinois. People tend to forget that and this trade agreement will be beneficial for our entire ag community.”
NAFTA for now remains in effect. The USMCA can come into effect following the completion of TPA procedures, including a Congressional vote on an implementing bill. For now, the bill sits in committee where it’s waiting to be called to the floor for a vote.