ST. PAUL — U.S. House Democrats on Tuesday, Dec. 10, announced they'd struck a deal with the White House to accept a new iteration of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The news broke a months-long disagreement about labor, climate and prescription drug provisions in the trade deal that kept Democrats in leadership from advancing the proposal. And leaders on both sides of the political aisle celebrated the move as a win.
In Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, elected officials and agriculture and manufacturing groups celebrated the news and urged rapid approval of the trade deal. Exports to Canada and Mexico from the three states exceeded $12 billion annually and the two countries represent the top export consumers for each state.
President Donald Trump on the campaign trail promised to get rid of NAFTA and to put in place a new, better trade agreement. He struck a deal last year with Canada and Mexico to move forward with an updated version, deemed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, but Democrats in control of the House had found issues with the measure and help up its ratification.
Now, with some of the changes that they wanted in place, House leaders have said they expect a vote next week. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, on Tuesday said he'd wait to vote in that chamber until after impeachment hearings ended. Canada and Mexico would also have to ratify the agreement.
While glad to see the deal surface again on Tuesday, Republicans said the move was aimed at pulling focus as Democrats announced they'd bring two articles of impeachment against the president. Democrats, meanwhile, said it was evidence that they were able to manage daily Congressional work and impeachment proceedings at the same time.
"This is a day we've all been working to and working for on the path to yes," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said. "There is no question of course that this trade agreement is much better than NAFTA, but in terms of our work here, it is infinitely better than what was initially proposed by the administration."
Reps. Angie Craig and Dean Phillips of Minnesota stood behind Pelosi at the news conference where she announced the deal. And on Twitter, Trump said he was pleased to see support from Democrats and touted the trade deal as the "most important trade deal ever made by the U.S.A."
America’s great USMCA Trade Bill is looking good. It will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody - Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions - tremendous support. Importantly, we will finally end our Country’s worst Trade Deal, NAFTA!
America’s great USMCA Trade Bill is looking good. It will be the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA. Good for everybody - Farmers, Manufacturers, Energy, Unions - tremendous support. Importantly, we will finally end our Country’s worst Trade Deal, NAFTA!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 10, 2019
Farmers and manufacturers in the Midwest had raised the alarm for months about the potential impact they could face if NAFTA lapsed without a new agreement in place. And their stories helped push forward the discussion about a compromise deal in Washington.
Here's what your elected officials and others had to say about the news:
Rep. Jim Hagedorn, R-MN01
"As the first member of the MN delegation to support USMCA, I am thrilled a bipartisan agreement has been reached to facilitate a House vote and finally deliver this much-needed and well-deserved win to our workers, businesses, farmers and families," Hagedorn said on Facebook. "Congratulations to President Trump and U.S. Trade Representative Lighthizer for all their great work and success."
Rep. Angie Craig, D-MN02
"After working with the administration to ensure the new US-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement protected American workers and did not raise drug prices, I’m proud to announce we have reached a final agreement that supports farmers and bolsters our economy," Craig said on Twitter. "I plan to vote yes on USMCA."
Rep. Dean Phillips, D-MN03
“I’m on a mission to restore Americans’ faith in our government, and the USMCA deal we announced today is exactly how our process should work,” Phillips said in a news release. “Republicans and Democrats in Congress, the White House, businesses, and labor organizations came together to forge a strong and solvent deal that is good for everyone."
Rep. Tom Emmer, D-MN06
"It's about time," Emmer said on Twitter.
Rep. Collin Peterson, D-MN07
“I have been pushing for months to get this deal to the finish line, and this announcement is great news for farmers, businesses and workers, in Western Minnesota and nationwide,” Peterson said. “Rural America has faced many hurdles and challenges with these trade wars, and passing the USMCA is a step in the right direction.”
Rep. Pete Stauber, R-MN08
“Today’s announcement of an agreement is great news for our nation, and long overdue. While President Trump negotiated this critical trade deal over a year ago, Speaker Pelosi delayed the vote on the USMCA in pursuit of partisan impeachment," Stauber said. "After months of relentless advocacy from House Republicans, I am relieved Speaker Pelosi finally did the right thing for the nation and agreed to move forward with the USMCA."
Rep. Kelly Armstrong, R-N.D.
“This is a huge win for North Dakota, a huge win for America, and a huge win for President Trump," Armstrong said in a statement. "My only question is why it took so long. Let’s get it done.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.
“Congratulations to President Trump and his Administration for working with allies in the content and adversaries across the aisle to strike this deal," Cramer said. "Today’s agreement is long overdue. Advancing USMCA represents a win for North Dakota and the American people, and it will help our standing as we work to secure more trade deals around the world."
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D.
“After being held up for more than a year in the House, it is time that House leadership moves this agreement quickly and gets it over to the Senate,” Hoeven said. “With our farmers and ranchers challenged by severe weather and unjustified retaliatory tariffs, USMCA will provide important certainty regarding our two biggest trading partners and significant benefits for U.S. agriculture. Now that the House has agreed to advance USMCA, Congress should move quickly to get it in place for the good of our country.”
Gov. Doug Burgum
“We’re deeply grateful to the Trump administration for its tireless work on this agreement, and we urge House leadership to put it to a vote quickly so it can advance to the Senate for approval and be implemented as soon as possible," Burgum said.
Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.
"USMCA is the win our producers need and we finally have a deal," Johnson said via Facebook. "The administration fought for this 21st-century trade deal for over a year and I’m glad it’s getting the support it deserves."
Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
"My number one priority is ensuring USMCA is a deal that’s good for our farmers & ranchers. I look forward to reviewing the negotiated language closely," Thune said on Twitter.
Agriculture and food groups
American Farm Bureau Federation
“We urge members of Congress to swiftly approve the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Agriculture is at a critical crossroads with the downturn in commodity prices, losses from natural disasters and the trade war," Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall said. "This is an opportunity for Congress not only to help U.S. farmers and ranchers turn the corner on trade, but also show that Washington can still get things done on a bipartisan basis."
Midwest Food Products Association
"We trust this development will now pave the way for final approval of USMCA quickly, which will benefit food manufacturers, American agriculture and consumers," Jason Culotta said.
Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
“On behalf of our members, we hope this paves the way for final agreement," Chamber President Doug Loon said. "Trade with our North American partners means prosperity for Minnesota farmers, manufacturers, small businesses and their employees. This agreement will create confidence in the markets and create new opportunities for workers across a range of industries.”
National Corn Growers Association
"NCGA appreciates the bipartisan efforts between Speaker Pelosi, Ambassador Lighthizer and the House working group to reach an agreement," the group's president Kevin Ross said. "I urge lawmakers to pass USMCA and help us close out 2019 with a win for America’s farmers and the U.S. economy.”
National Farmers Union
"Though we are encouraged by efforts to reform this framework, earlier drafts of USMCA did not go far enough to protect family farmers and rural communities," National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson said.