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House Ways & Means has heated debate on USMCA

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (USMCA) is waiting for ratification by the U.S. Congress. Its first step would be to pass the Democrat-controlled House. On Wednesday U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer testified before the House Ways and Means Committee. The testimony became a politically charged debate over claims of “rushing” and the “dragging of feet.”

The status of the USMCA became a heated debate on Wednesday. House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D- MA 1st) charged Democrats are being rushed by Republicans to get the trade deal ratified.

USTR Lighthizer took the opportunity to refute this charge. He said the trade deal has been public for nine months already.

Ambassador Lighthizer said if he was given the opportunity, he could address and wrap up all the Democrats’ concerns in the matter of an afternoon. The Ambassador also did credit Speaker Pelosi for setting up a negotiating panel

House Republicans charge Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats are purposely dragging their feet to prevent President Trump from, “having a victory before the 2020 elections.” Congressman Tom Rice (R- SC 7th) says there are enough votes to pass the trade deal now.

Wisconsin Representative Ron Kind (D- WI 3rd) said President Trump would reap the whirlwind of his tariff policies by losing the support of the Ag states, including Kind’s own Wisconsin. Ambassador Lighthizer snapped back at Kind, saying the passing USMCA would go a long way to helping farmers and will lead to more market access and reduce unfair trade barriers for U.S. producers.

Lighthizer told the Committee the trade deal was drafted with input from both sides of the Congressional aisle, including the labor and environmental sections that many House Democrats say prevents their support.

Earlier this week in Iowa, former Obama Administration Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said USMCA should not be about whether the President gets a victory, it is about securing a victory for farmers and the Ag industry.

Also on Wednesday, Mexico became the first country in the USMCA pact to ratify the agreement.