Chuck Grassley

United States Senator from Iowa

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Grassley: Congress Must Act Soon on USMCA

Oct 23, 2019
Grassley: Congress Must Act Soon on USMCA
Prepared Floor Remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa
Chairman, Senate Finance Committee
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
 
I come to the Senate floor today to express a growing worry: the Democratically-controlled House of Representatives looks increasingly less likely to act this year on USMCA. That threatens passage of the trilateral trade deal this Congress, as next year is a presidential election year.
 
It’s been about a year since the updated trade agreement with Canada and Mexico was signed by the leaders of the three nations. A year, and Democrats have still failed to act. Every day that passes, Americans are losing out on the economic benefits of USMCA. House Democrats seem to have no sense of urgency.
 
For months now, House Democrats have said they are working on it. That they’re making progress. That they’re optimistic they can get to “yes.” But conspicuously absent from their pronouncements are any mention of a date or timeline. With every passing month, these seem less like good-faith assurances, and more like stalling tactics.
 
The new Congress has been seated for more than 10 months now. How long is it going to take?
 
Ambassador Lighthizer, more than any other Trade Representative I can recall, has gone above and beyond to accommodate the other party’s policy demands. For nearly a year now, he has worked with House Democrats to find solutions on labor, environment, intellectual property and enforcement.
 
I’m beginning to wonder if Democrats are interested in reaching a compromise at all. It’s looking more like they would prefer to deprive the Administration of a victory, even if it comes at the expense of the American people. That shouldn’t stand.
 
Earlier this month, I wrote a column with Congressman Kevin Brady, the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee. We wrote that time would tell if Democrats cared more about undermining President Trump than helping Americans. Today, it’s looking more like the former than the latter.
 
If USMCA is not brought up for a vote in the House very soon, Democrats will have a price to pay next year when the American people will have a chance to weigh in. There’s little Americans dislike more in politics than zero-sum, oppose-the-other-party politics, no matter the cost.
 
The USMCA would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, protect American industries and provide confidence to U.S. businesses and innovators to invest right here in America. That is what Democrats are willing to sacrifice.
 
But Democrats are making the wrong political calculus. This underestimates the intelligence of the American voter and their ability to sniff out a phony. President Trump has done his job. He’s renegotiated a trade deal that nearly everyone besides a few congressional Democrats can agree is better than its predecessor. It’s now up to the House of Representatives to do its job and bring up this deal for a vote.
 
If they don’t act soon, the American people will hold them accountable a year from now.
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