Editorial: Dems in Congress need to walk their talk, approve trade pact - Albuquerque Journal

Editorial: Dems in Congress need to walk their talk, approve trade pact

Congressional Democrats have taken great umbrage at the suggestion they are so obsessed with trying to run President Donald Trump out of office via impeachment that they aren’t doing much heavy lifting when it comes to other issues of importance to the American people.

They could go a long way toward making that case by approving the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, better known as USMCA.

While there is some possible tinkering that could be easily done, there is no good reason not to approve this replacement for NAFTA. As the New York Times – not known as a defender of anything Trump – put it in a front-page story this week: “House Democrats return to Washington facing a difficult choice: Should they hand President Trump a victory in the midst of a heated impeachment battle or walk away from one of the most progressive trade pacts ever negotiated by either party?”

One would hope their sense of duty to country would prevail and this important agreement would move forward to votes in the House and Senate, with a simple majority required in each chamber. Two key players who should work to get that done are members of New Mexico’s delegation: assistant speaker Rep. Ben Ray Luján because of his leadership role and first-term Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, who represents the Second Congressional District, which borders Mexico.

USMCA is a good deal for all parties. In addition to requirements, for example, that more American-made parts must be included in vehicles manufactured in Mexico – with Mexican workers getting higher wages and collective bargaining guarantees – both Democrats and Republicans represent huge agricultural concerns that need USMCA to be ratified. Mexico already has done so with an almost unanimous vote in its upper chamber.

The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates the USMCA would result in $28 billion in new U.S. auto part purchases and create 76,000 U.S. auto jobs.

Journal contributing columnist Jerry Pacheco says about 6,000 jobs in this state are directly tied to trade with Mexico, along with “many jobs where people don’t even know their employment is ultimately tied to trade.”

And as for our neighbors to the south, Mexico’s economic ministry said Senate approval in that country “sends a clear message in favor of an open economy and of deepening its economic integration of the region.”

There is a real fear that if the agreement isn’t voted on this year, it will languish during a 2020 election campaign and end up being scrapped. That would be a travesty because as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said in an interview with Bloomberg News, USMCA is “the easiest trade deal that we’ve ever done.”

Richard Neal, D-Mass. and head of the Democrat group negotiating with the Trump administration over possible modifications, told the New York Times, “By any standard what we’ve already negotiated is substantially better than NAFTA.”

Democrats in Congress need to move this forward to a vote and approve it for the benefit of the American public and our North American trading partners.

Not doing so could disrupt our economies, decrease productivity and make us less competitive in the global market.

On the flip side, Pacheco noted, smooth ratification in Congress “can demonstrate to Americans and to the world that our lawmakers can still put aside deep-rooted differences and come together for the good of our nation and our neighbors.”

That would, indeed, be a lovely Christmas present.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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