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After a year, it’s time for Congress to act on trade pact

Vice President Mike Pence came to Kenosha County last week to push Congress to vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which was signed in November 2018.

It’s President Donald Trump’s plan to replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement with a renegotiated trade pact. And it will help Wisconsin, Pence said over and over again.

“Last year, the state of Wisconsin alone exported more than $22 billion in goods to Mexico and Canada. Do the math, everybody. The USMCA is a win for Wisconsin and a win for America,” Pence said in comments at Uline Warehouse in Pleasant Prairie.

Companies like Uline, which employs 6,000 workers and has become one of the largest distribution companies in North America, are looking for action on this bill, and for good reason.

“We’re very proud to have Uline chosen to host this very important event,” Dick Uihlein said. “There are many companies, just like Uline, that have operations in all three countries (United States, Mexico and Canada). It’s crucial we have a free and fair trade agreement set up to handle this.”

USMCA was negotiated to replace NAFTA, which was enacted in January 1994 under President Bill Clinton and has been blamed for heavy job losses in manufacturing in particular.

And the new deal is stuck in the partisan gridlock that is Washington, where leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell work to prevent issues from coming to votes.

U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Wisconsin, says at every opportunity that he’s in Washington to work with people and get things done. His remarks at the Pence rally were consistent.

“Speaker Pelosi must bring USMCA to the House floor for a vote,” he said. “Improving access to Canada and Mexico’s markets will help manufacturers and farmers sell their goods, increase workers’ wages and grow their industries. USMCA is a win for Wisconsin.”

Pence said he came to Wisconsin “to turn up the heat” on Wisconsin’s U.S. Rep. Ron Kind and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Kind, a Democrat who represents western Wisconsin, told the Associated Press that “gains achieved for Wisconsin dairy farmers, workers and families do not exist unless this deal is fully enforceable.” House Democrats are working to ensure the deal meets that standard and is waiting for the Trump administration to “step up and finalize” it, he said.

Baldwin, D-Wisconsin., told The Associated Press she will look at the final legislation when it comes to the Senate to make sure the pact “stops the outsourcing of Wisconsin manufacturing jobs and is a fair deal for our workers.”

It’s time, after a year, that Democrats and Republicans take time to debate any disagreements and then vote this up or down. Companies like Uline and workers across America deserve support.

– Kenosha News

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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