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Thom Tillis: House holds up passage of trade deal

By Thom Tillis

President Donald Trump’s trade strategy is certainly a bold one, but even the president’s loudest critics can’t deny that it’s producing results.

Today, I’ll be visiting Rowan and Union Counties with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to meet with agriculture leaders to discuss the Trump administration’s record of results on free and fair trade and supporting our state’s agriculture industry.

I was proud to stand with President Trump and North Carolina farmers when we passed the 2018 Farm Bill, even though I was disappointed that Democrats opposed my proposal that would have strengthened work requirements to receive food stamp benefits in order to reduce dependency on the government.

I’m also proud to stand with President Trump on supporting his free and fair trade agenda. While nearly all presidents in the modern era have talked tough when it comes to trade and holding other nations, including China, accountable, President Trump is the first president who has actually backed up his words with actions.

Just this week, President Trump signed a new United States-Japan trade agreement that will significantly reduce tariffs of American agricultural goods that are exported to Japan, which is good news for America’s farmers.

President Trump has been leveraging America’s economic might with the smart and strategic use of all tools available to him, including tariffs. This is how President Trump was able to bring Canada and Mexico to the negotiating table. The result was the signing of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, often referred to as the USMCA.

The USMCA is a great deal for North Carolina, especially since Canada and Mexico are our state’s No. 1 and No. 2 export markets. The USMCA effectively replaces NAFTA, which rightfully has earned a fair deal of criticism from North Carolinians over the last three decades because of its devastating impact on our state’s textile industry.

Countless North Carolina businesses I have visited have told me how USMCA will open up new markets and allow them to grow and expand. Farmers I have met with tell me that they are eager to see USMCA passed into law so they can continue to rely on Mexican and Canadian consumers to purchase their product. The American Farm Bureau estimates that agricultural exports from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico have increased from $9 billion in 1993 to $40 billion in 2018.

It’s no wonder why the USMCA has earned broad support from across North Carolina and the rest of the country, and why the deal would be approved by the Senate with overwhelmingly bipartisan support.

Unfortunately, the problem is that the USMCA must first pass the House, and a vote is currently being held up by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats. Instead of passing what would be a major win for North Carolina, Pelosi and House Democrats have instead chosen to use all their time and energy dragging our nation through a meritless and bitterly partisan impeachment process against President Trump. The ability for America to realize its full economic potential should not be denied because politicians in Washington would rather play partisan politics.

President Trump did his job by successfully negotiating a historic trade deal that is a win for America and North Carolina. Now it’s time for Speaker Pelosi to do her job and pass it.

Tillis is the junior U.S. senator for North Carolina.

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