On a sunny October afternoon in Washington, President Donald Trump unveiled a bipartisan, multilateral and historic North American trade deal known as the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Widely received with accolades from leaders in agriculture, manufacturing, business and politicians of both parties, the USMCA seemed destined for swift approval by Mexico, Canada and the U.S.
Unfortunately, that announcement ceremony so full of potential was now more than 415 days ago. In that time, Mexico has done its part by passing labor reforms and other measures to enact the USMCA. Canada is not far behind, ready to implement the deal as soon as it is ratified by the U.S. Sadly, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that a vote is no longer likely this year.
Blinded by partisan dislike of the president, a recent op-ed called the need for the USMCA deal to replace NAFTA a "self-inflicted crisis." However, the only self-inflicted crisis is the blatant resolve by House Democrats to delay a vote on the deal, seemingly only to deny a victory for President Trump.
Although pundits and politicians may think this is a winning strategy, American farmers, ranchers, workers and small businesses lose every day the USMCA is not enacted, missing out on new jobs and economic growth. Yes, the deal builds on NAFTA, which was cast aside as promised by President Trump. Yet that’s because the 25-year-old deal needed overdue updates, especially regarding digital trade and intellectual property issues that did not exist in 1994. The USMCA addresses those, while creating thousands of new jobs, boosting national GDP and worker wages, and opening new markets for U.S. goods.
Among the many casualties of the Democrat’s manufactured crisis of delay is — pardon the pun — manufacturing, especially in the auto sector wrecked by years of bad trade deals and the previous decade’s economic collapse. The USMCA works to repair the industry through new mandates on wages and the percentage of parts and vehicles made in the U.S. Important to Kansas, new access for U.S. agriculture products is also a win for American ranchers and farmers.
House Democrats in battleground districts frustrated by a year of inaction finally spoke up to Speaker Pelosi recently urging passage. These Members, like Speaker Pelosi, must know that the House under the Democratic majority has embarrassingly passed just 47 laws, fewer than the number of subpoenas they have issued in never-ending investigations and impeachment.
Perhaps this realization led Speaker Pelosi to say a deal on USMCA could be imminent. However, we’ve heard this before. Time and again, House Democrats have said they are getting closer to passage, all while the clock runs and a vote is not held.
The USMCA is a good deal for America and our North American neighbors. That’s why it would have easily passed in a bipartisan vote if one had been held months ago. However, the blatant delay of that vote and the economic growth missed out on over the past 415 days is a crisis manufactured by Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats.
Now searching for a way to save face as they pursue a partisan impeachment investigation, perhaps Speaker Pelosi will eventually allow a vote on USMCA. For the sake of our economy and millions of farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and workers, I hope so. But the damage of delay is done, and our country deserves better.
Rep. Ron Estes represents the Kansas 4th District.