Sen. McConnell urges Senate to pass USMCA

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., heads to a briefing by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and other national security officials on the details of the threat that prompted the U.S. to kill Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020 on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON D.C. (WEHT) – US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged the Senate to pass the trade agreement between the US, Mexico, and Canada (the USMCA) on Thursday.

Read Sen. McConnell’s remarks here:

‘Before we turn to the trial in earnest, the Senate has one more major accomplishment to deliver to the American people.

‘Yesterday we began floor consideration of the most significant update to North American trade policy in nearly 30 years. And in just a couple of hours, we’re going to pass the USMCA and send it to President Trump for his signature.

‘It was back in 2018 when the Trump administration finalized its talks with the governments of Mexico and Canada. This has been a major priority for the president and for many of us in both houses in Congress.

‘That’s because American livelihoods in every corner of every state depend on these critical trading relationships. Farmers, growers, cattlemen, manufacturers, small businesses, big businesses — this is a major step for our whole country.

‘In the 26 years since the ratification of NAFTA, trade with Mexico and Canada has come to directly support 12 million American jobs. 12 million workers, and their families, who depend on robust trade with our North American neighbors.

‘Our neighbors to the north and south purchase half a trillion dollars in American goods and services every year.

‘That includes more than a quarter of all the food and agricultural products grown in the United States.

‘Take my home state of Kentucky as one example. Mexico and Canada buy $300 million of agricultural exports from Kentucky growers and producers every year. They buy $9.9 billion of our state’s manufacturing exports. And on, and on.

‘Commerce with our neighbors is essential across the board.

‘No wonder experts estimate the USMCA would create 176,000 new American jobs.

‘No wonder they predict it will yield tens of billions of dollars in economic growth. No wonder farmers, ranchers, steel workers, and manufacturers across the country have been so eager to see the USMCA signed, sealed, and delivered.

‘In one recent letter, Kentucky farmers told me, quote, “we need the agreement ratified and we need it to happen now.”

‘I know my colleagues have been hearing the same thing from their home states. Republicans, Democrats, Senators, Representatives — our incoming has been the same. Get this deal passed. Failure is not an option.

‘Of course, for far too long, our counterparts in the House kept all these Americans waiting. It took more than a year, and a lot of pressure from Senate Republicans, to get the Speaker of the House to stop blocking this trade deal and finally let the House vote on it.

‘Late last year, she relented. It passed by a big bipartisan margin, of course. And now I expect that kind of vote will repeat itself here in the Senate.

‘I’m especially grateful to our colleagues and counterparts who got this across the finish line:

‘To the United States Trade Representative, Bob Lighthizer, and his hard-working team led by his chief of staff Jamieson Greer…

‘To Chairman Grassley, for leading the bipartisan effort in the Senate Finance Committee, and his trade team led by Nasim Fussell…

‘To Ranking Member Wyden, his trade counsel Jayme White, and all our Finance Committee colleagues and staff…

‘To the chairmen of our other committees of jurisdiction who worked nimbly to get this done;

‘I want to thank the exceptional Cloakroom staff, in particular Christopher Tuck;

‘And I’d like to thank members of my own team whose efforts were invaluable:

‘Most especially my Chief Economic Policy Counsel, Jay Khosla, whose role in securing this agreement has been absolutely essential…

‘Ali Nepola in my personal office…

‘Erica Suares and my other leadership policy advisors…

‘And of course their fearless leaders, Sharon Soderstrom, my chief of staff, and my deputy chief of staff for policy Scott Raab.

‘And, of course, I’m most grateful to President Trump for prioritizing, negotiating, and delivering on this major promise.

‘Today the Senate will send this landmark agreement to the president’s desk. A big bipartisan win. And it comes the very same week as President Trump also signed Phase One of his administration’s trade agreement with China.

‘Quite a week of substantive accomplishments for the nation, for the President, and for our international trade.

‘And both these measures will only add to all the other Republican policies of the past three years that have helped generate this historically strong economic moment for working Americans and their families.

‘So I urge every one of my colleagues to join me in voting to pass the USMCA.’

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(This story was originally published on January 16, 2020)

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