As the representative for the Second Congressional District, I’m always looking for common ground and common-sense solutions that transcend politics. To date, I’ve introduced 17 bills and cosponsored more than 330 bills, over two-thirds of them bipartisan, that tackle kitchen table issues facing Minnesota families.
For this reason, after months of working to make the deal better, I was proud to vote for the president’s United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, USMCA.
I’ve worked for over two decades in two international businesses that depended on sales from outside the United States in order to thrive and grow here. I’ve spent time in my first term in office listening to family farmers and small business owners about the need for trade that opens up markets. Although my goal was always to get to yes on USMCA, I had to make sure hard-working Minnesotans weren’t given a false choice between open markets and affordable health care. And I had to make sure that American workers were protected this time. This trade deal in this respect has the endorsement of the AFL-CIO after a hard-fought effort to ensure enforcement on Mexico labor standards was robust — a key valid criticism of the North America Free Trade Agreement.
That’s what I’ve been doing behind the scenes on this trade deal for months, working to get a better deal that would allow me and more of my colleagues to get to yes. I met many times with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. I led a group of over 100 of my colleagues in pushing back on a provision that was simply a hand out to Big Pharma. A biologics provision in the original text would have driven up prices in Mexico and Canada and potentially tied our hands in the U.S. to take on brand name pharmaceutical companies. I would not make my farmers choose between open markets and the price of their prescription drugs.
I know how critical USMCA is for family farmers. Over the past year, our farmers have been hit by a reckless trade war with China, irresponsible small refinery waivers and extremely unusual weather patterns. A reliable trade deal isn’t just something family farmers want, it’s something they need to keep their businesses going. And when they head to their lenders this year, I want them to know that we aren’t letting petty politics of Washington get in the way of a good trade deal.
In this deal, I also fought to protect our workers. By ensuring greater enforcement of labor standards in Mexico, we can be more confident that American workers will be protected. We know that NAFTA encouraged the outsourcing of jobs overseas and encouraged inhumane labor standards. This agreement seeks to protect American jobs and improve labor standards abroad and has the support of American labor organizations.
At the end of the day, I work for you. That means working with the administration when it benefits Minnesota’s Second Congressional District and pushing back on anyone or any ideas that hurt us. That remains my commitment as I represent you.
I was honored to work to craft and vote for this important trade agreement on behalf of American farmers, workers and businesses. Now, it’s time for the Senate to pass USMCA.