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Illinois congressmen, farmers talk about USMCA as bridge past 2020 election, China trade dispute


Tuesday, August 13, 2019  |  Article  |  By Greg Bishop | The Center Square

Agriculture (2) , Candidates--Federal (13) , Economy (34) , Foreign affairs (99)
Illinois farmers want a trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico as a bridge to get past the 2020 election and the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China.

During Ag Day at the Illinois State Fair on Tuesday, Illinois Farm Bureau President Richard Guebert said farmers have been patient during the ongoing trade disputes lead by President Donald Trump, but their patience is wearing thin.

“China has got the willingness and the ability to push things off until after the [November 2020] election,” Guebert said. “We’ll have to see if farmers have the patience to stay with the administration.”

Guebert said getting the USMCA passed by Congress immediately will help bridge the gap.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said the pressure is on the Democrat-controlled U.S. House.

“Why in the world aren’t you pushing [U.S. House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi to put the single most important bill we can for our farmers and manufacturers, why aren’t you pushing her to put it on the floor?” Davis said.

U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, said USMCA was a better deal than its predecessor, the North American Free Trade Agreement. He said it would benefit Illinois farmers, especially as Trump continues trade negotiations with China.

“This shouldn't be a partisan issue,” LaHood said. “The fact that Democrats don’t want to give a win to the president on this trade agreement shouldn't be a reason not to bring it to the floor.”

U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Moline, said the China dispute could have generational impacts.

Pelosi will speak in Springfield at Wednesday’s Democratic County Chairs Association breakfast. Bustos said Pelosi is sure to get the USMCA question posed. Bustos said Democrats want to tackle prescription drug prices and more.

“We’ve got to make sure that our workers are treated fairly and we have to make sure that the environmental concerns are addressed … and the enforcement of all of this,” Bustos said. “If those things can get worked out, I think we can get to a 'yes.' ”

The heads of the three countries agreed to the USMCA deal last November. Mexico has ratified the agreement. Canada and the U.S. Congress have yet to ratify the deal.