Steve King: Iowans want the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement
This week, 79 of Iowa’s agriculture and business organizations released a public letter in support of President Trump’s United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA). Signatories to this letter included: the Iowa Farm Bureau, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Ames Chamber of Commerce, the Iowa Biodiesel Board, the Iowa Corn Growers Association, the Iowa Pork Producers, the Iowa Soybean Association, the Iowa State Dairy Association, and the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.
These groups are all important economic drivers in our state, and they are all in agreement that President Trump’s USMCA deal “is essential to Iowa farmers, businesses, and families and provides economic predictability that Iowa needs for the future.” They understand that the USMCA contains important improvements over its NAFTA predecessor, and that it will "enhance all aspects of Iowa’s economy including agriculture, manufacturing, service industry, and the ever-expanding digital economy."
As the Republican dean of Iowa’s House delegation, I welcome the public support these organizations are offering for enactment of the president’s signature trade deal. President Trump took a big risk when he rejected the status-quo provided by NAFTA, and he should be commended for delivering a new trade deal that has earned strong support throughout Iowa because of the benefits our producers and manufacturers expect to receive from the newly negotiated terms. I want the USMCA brought to a vote, and I look forward to casting my vote in favor.
Unfortunately, the three Democratic members of our House Delegation have not received the USMCA as enthusiastically as many of us would have hoped. In fact, Representatives Axne, Finkenauer, and Loebsack have left many people guessing as to how they would vote if the President’s non-amendable trade deal is put before them.
In my opinion, nothing would kick-start passage of the USMCA faster in the Democratic controlled House of Representatives than to have the three Democratic members in the Iowa House delegation publicly announce that they, too, support the USMCA because of all the acknowledged good it does for Farm State economies throughout the Midwest. Their endorsement might embolden other Farm State Democrats to get off the sidelines, and it might help the USMCA secure the Democratic votes it will ultimately need to prevail in the House.
In a recent editorial entitled “Democrats should give Trump a win on his trade deal with Mexico and Canada” the Washington Post observes: “A certain naked but understandable political calculation says she [Speaker Pelosi] should not. Democrats’ primary goal is to resist Mr. Trump; a trade victory could help his 2020 campaign. Better, on this view, to stick to Ms. Pelosi’s current approach — insisting on modifications to the proposal’s labor, environmental and pharmaceutical provisions, and discussing them with Mr. Trump’s trade representative, Robert E. Lighthizer — indefinitely.”
As a liberal paper, the Washington Post can be credited with one thing: they often have insight into what the far-left members of the Democratic leadership are thinking. And the Post sees a political calculus in which House Democrats are intentionally slow-walking the USMCA simply because some of their members don’t want to give President Trump a political victory.
I hope this isn’t the reason that Reps. Axne, Finkenauer, and Loebsack have been so hesitant to lend their full support to President Trump’s USMCA deal. Perhaps it isn’t. But their ambiguity on this topic has a lot of Iowans wondering where they stand, and it could be emboldening the House Democratic Leadership to play games with the bill.
These three members should allay Iowans’ concerns and join in a bipartisan call for passage of a USMCA bill that Senator Grassley, Senator Ernst, and I all publicly support. The USMCA will be good for our state, and as evidenced by the letter we all received, it is viewed by many Iowans as “essential” to their economic well-being.
In the Washington Post editorial referenced above, even the anti-Trump Post grudgingly concluded that, based on the USMCA’s merits, Speaker Pelosi should bring the President’s deal to the floor.
Surely, Reps. Axne, Finkenauer, and Loebsack don’t want to go farther left in opposition to President Trump than even the ultra-liberal Washington Post is willing to do. These three representatives have a real opportunity to help build momentum for the passage of President Trump’s important trade legislation by coming out in full support of the USMCA. I encourage them to do so.
Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, represents Iowa's 4th congressional district.
This column originally ran in the Sioux City Journal on September 12, 2019.