Wisconsin State Capitol

Vice President Mike Pence is calling on Congress to pass President Trump’s U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, saying it’s “a win for Wisconsin and a win for America.”

Pence, speaking Oct. 23 at an America First Policies event at the Uline warehouse in Pleasant Prairie, urged attendees to contact Democrats representing Wisconsin in Congress, singling out U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, and U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison.

“Tell the Democrats representing Wisconsin in Washington, D.C., that Wisconsin needs the USMCA,” Pence said.

But he said there’s no need to contact Republicans representing the state, as “they’re fighting every day for the USMCA.”

Pence said the trade agreement would boost both manufacturing and agriculture in Wisconsin and the U.S.

“It’s a win in the city and on the farm, and it’s still sitting there on the speaker’s desk,” Pence said.

He predicted that if Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., brought the trade deal to the floor, it would pass with bipartisan support.

Pence drew applause several times during his address before a large crowd on Uline’s warehouse floor, particularly when highlighting economic gains made under President Trump.

“It’s been three years of action. It’s been three years of results. It’s been three years of promises made and promises kept,” Pence said. “And we’re just getting started.”

Pence was introduced by U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, and U.S. Solicitor of Labor Kate O’Scannlain; they both praised the trade agreement.

Ahead of the stop, Democrats and union officials gathered in Kenosha to slam what they called a string of broken promises from the Trump administration.

John Drew, a former UAW Local 72 president, charged Trump has used working people as props. He pointed to the president’s promise that he would save jobs at a Carrier Air Conditioner plant in Indianapolis only to see them sent to Mexico.

Drew said Trump promised he would save a GM plant in Lordstown, Ohio, telling people at a nearby rally not to sell their homes because the jobs were coming back, but it is still slated to close. And he noted the president attacked Harley-Davidson for producing more motorcycles overseas, and the company’s recent report showed earnings fell 24 percent in the quarter as tariffs and weak sales hurt the company’s bottom line.

The only promise Trump has kept, Drew said, was to cut taxes, but that has largely benefited the rich.

“Working people can’t afford four more years of broken promises,” Drew said. “We need a president who will hear our concerns and keep their word, not someone who sells us out.”

U.S. House Democrats are “trying to get to ‘yes’” on Trump’s trade deal, according to U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, a Ways and Means Committee member.

“We’re not trying to kill this initiative simply because it’s a Trump initiative,” the Milwaukee Democrat said at a WisPolitics.com DC breakfast on Oct. 23. “We want to do the right thing for the country.”

If approved by all three nations involved, USMCA would replace the current North American Free Trade Agreement, established Jan. 1, 1994.

The three countries agreed on the modification to trade policy on Oct. 1, 2018. Negotiations began back in summer 2017.

The Mexican government ratified the USMCA in July this year shortly after Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, their newly elected president, took office. The U.S. and Canada have yet to approve of the deal through their respective governments.

Moore said some House Democrats have concerns over the labor standards in the agreement and a lack of enforcement measures to make sure those standards are met. She said another Democratic issue with the agreement is the chapter on patents and intellectual property rights for the pharmaceutical industry.

Any changes to the deal made by U.S. politicians would need new approval in Mexico and Canada.

Moore said Trump and his team need “to do something other than take the tour to try to stir up support” and get behind working with Democrats to pass the agreement in the House. She said Trump and the GOP need to get support “from a broad swath of our caucus” to pass the trade deal.

According to the Office of the United States Trade Representative’s website, one aspect of the deal is it would open U.S. access to Canada’s dairy industry by providing “new tariff rate quotas exclusively for the United States.” Restrictions on most agricultural trade between the nations would be lowered from current standards.

The Capitol Report is written by editorial staff at WisPolitics.com, a nonpartisan, Madison-based news service that specializes in coverage of government and politics, and is distributed for publication by members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

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