Washington often seems like a three-ring circus, and lately is no exception. Between impeachment, all the hearings and testimonies which have essentially turned Congress into a TV courtroom, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s stall tactics which have prevented Congress from taking up key priorities, partisan politics has once again taken over, and things in Washington are not getting done.
One important example of this is the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, also known as USMCA. This Thanksgiving marked the one-year anniversary of the expiration of this agreement, and Congress is losing a critical opportunity to support a staggering 176,000 new domestic jobs and a boost of more than $68 billion to the U.S. economy. That may not mean a lot on K Street, but it means a lot on Main Street.
Under this agreement, exports to Canada and Mexico would increase to $19 billion and $14.2 billion, respectively. It would ensure more cars and parts are made in the U.S., and support our manufacturing sector, representing a boost of over $600 million a year for the industry. And, currently, our farmers must pay an extra fee to Canada in order to sell poultry, dairy and eggs in the Canadian marketplace. This proposal would eliminate that fee.
Speaking of Main Street, for states like Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, this agreement would have an enormous impact on local economies. There are more than 47,000 farms across the state of Nebraska, and Mexico and Canada account for more than 20 percent of the state’s exports. Mexico is the largest export market for milk, with more than 80 percent of Nebraska’s dairy exports going south of the border.
In Pennsylvania, the proposal would support more than 42,900 manufacturing jobs. Pennsylvania’s chemical exports to Canada and Mexico would already have increased by more than 60 percent over the last decade, and one out of every four Pennsylvania manufacturing firms export to Canada and Mexico.
Ohio exported more than $20 billion worth of goods alone to Canada, nearly $7.1 billion to Mexico and more than half of the state’s merchandise exports go to the two countries. Not only that, one in three Ohio manufacturing firms — overwhelmingly small businesses — export to Canada and Mexico.
In Michigan, 38.9 percent of the GDP depends on trade — the highest in the nation, and while Canada and Mexico represent less than 4 percent of the global economy, they are major purchasers of Michigan goods, supporting more than 117,000 manufacturing jobs — jobs that pay on average approximately $78,000 compared to the average salary of nearly $47,000 for workers across all private non-farm industries.
I spend a lot of time traveling around the country talking to voters and jobs is always at the top of the list of things that people care about as they sit around their kitchen tables. It is for all of that reason that countless governors, industries, businesses and moderate members on both sides of the aisle have spoken out in favor of USMCA.
Members of our Republican Main Street Partnership — Reps. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, Don Bacon of Nebraska, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Bill Huizenga of Michigan, Dave Joyce of Ohio, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, Troy Balderson of Ohio, Bill Johnson of Ohio and Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania — have all supported this proposal because they understand the importance of reaching across the aisle to get things done for their constituents.
They and other moderate members of Congress stand ready to get down to the business of getting this done for companies, farms, major industries and families across our country.
Now Congress needs to follow suit, push aside partisan politics and get this for Main Street America.
• Sarah Chamberlain is the president and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership.
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