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Rep. Torres Small: House should vote on trade deal

U.S Rep. Xochitl Torres Small

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico is calling for a vote on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement on the House floor.

The first-term Democrat said in an op-ed column appearing in the Sunday Journal that she is willing to work with President Donald Trump to get the trade deal done.

“It’s imperative that this bill is brought to the House floor,” she said.

The USMCA is a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, which she said helped increase New Mexico’s exports to Mexico by 350% since 2007, the biggest jump for any southern border state.

“President Trump is right – NAFTA is out of date, our agricultural producers and American workers deserve a better deal, and businesses need certainty. If we want to continue to grow our economy, we need to get to a yes on USMCA and end disruptive tariff skirmishes,” she wrote in the op-ed.

Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials pushed for the trade agreement during visits to New Mexico earlier this year. They frequently linked the inactivity on the issue with the impeachment inquiry, which Torres Small and her Democratic colleagues from New Mexico, Reps. Ben Ray Luján and Deb Haaland, supported.

In a flurry of recent advertisements, Torres Small has been specifically targeted by the Trump Victory reelection campaign and groups such as the American Action Network, which is affiliated with Republican House leadership. The ads directly mention the failure to pass the USMCA.

The group Business Roundtable also ran radio advertisements in Albuquerque urging Torres Small to vote for the USMCA. The advertisements did not mention Haaland, who represents most of the Albuquerque area, or Luján, who represents most of northern New Mexico.

Torres Small, who represents the more conservative southern 2nd Congressional District, joined other members of the delegation in rejecting the Trump administration’s accusation that the impeachment probe has held up action on issues such as the USMCA.

“We cannot afford inaction, so I remain ready to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to continue tackling the issues that keep New Mexican families up at night,” she said in a statement to the Journal.

In her op-ed, she mentioned several sectors that would benefit from passage of the USMCA, from the oil and gas industry to chile and pecan growers, although she said the agreement wasn’t perfect.

“I will not let party politics stop me from doing what is right for New Mexico, and I will work with anyone – Democrats, Republicans, and President Trump – to help deliver for our home,” she wrote.

Torres Small’s colleagues insist work is being done on the agreement.

“Democrats have been working diligently to truly make the USMCA an improvement over NAFTA for workers as opposed to another empty exercise from President Trump,” U.S. Sen. Tom Udall said, adding that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met about USMCA last month.

Luján spokeswoman Lauren French said House Democrats were working to make sure the new agreement included protections for workers and the environment.

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