WASHINGTON DC (January 15, 2020) — Prepared floor remarks by Senator Charles "Chuck" Grassley, Chairman, Senate Finance Committee:
It’s said that good things come to those who wait. Others say that it’s better late than never. Either way, we can agree that this day has been a long time coming.
With passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — by what will be an overwhelming margin here in the United States Senate — America’s economy can continue to thrive and drive prosperity for hard-working American farmers, workers, and tax-payers.
A rising tide lifts all boats. The new NAFTA puts a bigger oar in the water for our trilateral trade-relationship with our northern and southern neighbors.
It’s important to point out that we wouldn’t be here without the bold leadership and determination of President Trump. This president is doing exactly what he said he would do.
He ran for office on a platform. And he’s sticking to that platform.
Undaunted by those who set to throw him out of office since day one, President Trump forges ahead for the good of the American people. He forged ahead to update and improve NAFTA for Americans. And at the end of the day, President Trump successfully steered this vital trade pact into the 21st century.
He did so with a tireless and tenacious team of advisors, especially the leadership of US Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer. He worked in good faith to broker and fine-tune the USMCA. He built a broad and sweeping coalition to strengthen and expand markets for US agriculture, manufacturing, and services exports. To improve labor and environmental protections in a balanced fashion. To grow wages for workers. And he ensured that all of this would be subject to strong enforcement, which is the bedrock of any good trade agreement.
Unfortunately, their efforts became entangled in a time-wasting partisan roadblock from the US House of Representatives. It’s unfortunate for the American people — especially America’s farmers, ranchers, and workers — that public policymaking took a back seat to a partisan obsession to impeach the 45th President of the United States.
That’s a shame. This president is upholding his promise to put America and Americans first. His message resonates with tens of millions of Americans who want to restore the American Dream for their children and grandchildren. They want the next generation to have the opportunity to lay claim to the American Dream. That if you work hard and play by the rules, you can earn a good living, get ahead, and stay ahead.
A big plank in President Trump’s platform is fixing broken trade agreements. He’s determined to stop America’s farmers, manufacturers, workers, and consumers from being taken for a ride.
When it comes to unfair trade agreements, the buck stops with President Trump.
When NAFTA took effect 26 years ago this month, the digital economy and commercialization of the Internet didn’t yet exist. The USMCA creates the first US free-trade agreement with a digital-trade chapter. These important measures will help the $1.3 trillion US digital economy to flourish and grow. It improves efforts to stop importers of counterfeit goods from ripping off consumers, producers, and content-creators. It provides for copyright and patent-protections to uphold trade secrets and to secure data rights so American ingenuity and innovation will drive economic growth, create jobs, drive up consumer choices, and drive down prices for goods and services.
USMCA levels the playing-field for the US auto industry by encouraging companies to use more North American content and higher-wage labor.
USMCA also fixes enforcement flaws that hog-tied NAFTA from keeping everyone accountable to their commitments.
Speaking of hogs, the new NAFTA is good news for America’s farmers and ranchers. Iowa is the nation’s number-one pork producer. In 2018, Canada and Mexico bought more than 40 percent of US pork exports. These exports support 16,000 US jobs.
USMCA preserves critical, duty-free access to Mexico and Canada. And it removes unfair restrictions on US farm and food products. For the first time ever, US eggs and dairy exports will be sold in Canada. This is very good news. It means an additional $227 million for dairy exports to Canada and $50.6 million into Mexico. My home state also is the number-one egg-producer in the country. The USMCA will increase US exports of poultry and eggs to Canada by $207 million. It also addresses restrictions that kept US wheat and wine out of Canada.
I’d particularly like to thank the former Iowa Governor and previous Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. He set aside partisan motives embraced by other members of his party to work together with me, Sen Joni Ernst, and Gov Kim Reynolds to champion USMCA.
According to the US International Trade Commission, the USMCA will raise real GDP by more than $68 billion and create nearly 176,000 jobs. All told, the trade pact is forecast to boost farm and food exports by at least $2.2 billion. Considering the slump in the farm economy, it’s really shameful that passage of the USMCA was stalled for over a year — and nearly derailed — by a partisan agenda, including impeaching this president.
Under the Trump economy, the United States is enjoying the longest economic expansion in US history. Ratification of the USMCA will help America’s economic engine fire on all cylinders and refuel prosperity in Rural America.
As I mentioned at the beginning of my remarks, passage of USMCA is better late than never.
And while I’m looking forward, I’d also like to take this opportunity to call on our friends in Canada to quickly ratify the agreement. Now that Mexico has ratified, and the United States will be done will be done very soon, all eyes will be on Canada to get the job done quickly so we can all work together to implement this agreement.
Separately, let’s not delay the people’s business on other important matters before us, such as drug-pricing reform and retirement and pension legislation that would provide peace of mind for Americans for their health-care and financial security.