Lawmakers push to pass trade agreement


WASHINGTON, D.C. (ABC News) – From flooding to tariffs, the agriculture economy in the United States has been hurting, and lawmakers from the tri-state area are taking notice.

South Dakota Senator John Thune recognized farmers are hurting nationwide not just in the Midwest.

“A combination of low commodity prices, protracted trade disputes, and natural disasters and weather-related issues have left many farmers and ranchers struggling,” Thune said. “Nationwide, net farm income is about half of what it was in 2013. Half.”

Thune went on to say that he is working to pass the new United States Mexico Canada Agreement. 

“I’m also doing everything I can to move the United States-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement through Congress in the near future. This agreement would benefit American agriculture, create jobs, and grow our economy, and we should pass it as soon as possible. And we should be wary of any action that might jeopardize this trade agreement and the markets it will open for our producers.”

Senator Thune believes passing the trade agreement will help ease some tension on farmers.

But the agreement might be put on hold after President Trump threatened new tariffs on Mexican goods. Those could go into effect as soon as next week if an agreement on immigration is not met. 

President Trump is standing by his threat to impose tariffs on Mexico, the U.S.’s third largest trading partner. 

“Mexico could stop it. They have to stop it. Otherwise, we just won’t be able to do business,” Trump said. 

The president said that unless the Mexican government stops the flow of undocumented migrants through the southern border, the U.S.  Will set to slap a five percent tariff on Mexican goods starting Monday. The president threatened to add an additional five percent every month, maxing out at 25 percent in October, if migrations continues at these high levels. 

The pressure is on Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to strike a deal with the Mexican foreign minister and his delegation, who are in Washington Wednesday afternoon for some 11th hour diplomacy.

“I think they want to make a deal, and they sent their top people. We will see what happens today,” said Trump.

Both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill are against the punitive measures.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said U.S. consumers will pick up the costs

“In punishing Mexico, we’ll be punishing America as well,” Pelosi said.

Senate Republicans are threatening to vote against the measure with a veto-proof majority

The president is in the middle of negotiations for a new multilateral trade deal with Mexico and Canada. Lawmakers fear that the trade deal could be jeopardized before the latest tariff threats. 

Iowa Senator and Republican Joni Ernst is among those worried that the proposed tariffs will impact the trade deal with Mexico and Canada, saying we need to work alongside our neighbors to the south, not against. 

“Iowans want to see the trade deals done. So again focusing back on USMCA, Mexico and Canada are very good trade partners with the United States, especially when it comes to our agricultural goods,” Reynolds said. “So we do want to move forward with this, and we are very concerned with the additional tariffs that have been proposed. We would like to see this handled as two separate issues.”

The USMCA has been in limbo in Washington for months. Once Congress passes the trade deal, both Mexico and Canada’s legislatures will need to approve it before it becomes final.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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