**VIDEO/AUDIO: On Floor of the U.S. House, Spanberger Urges Her Colleagues to Support the USMCA**
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger today joined a bipartisan majority of her colleagues in passing a landmark trilateral trade deal that would strengthen export markets and level the playing field for Central Virginia businesses, farms, and workers.
Spanberger voted to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement (USMCA), which—if enacted—would replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Earlier this month, a deal was announced between House negotiators and the administration on changes to the agreement. Just days before this announcement, Spanberger joined Vice President Mike Pence in a bipartisan meeting with five of her colleagues at the White House to discuss the status of the USMCA and the need to finalize the agreement.
“There’s no doubt that Central Virginia’s economy depends on trade—and today’s vote to pass the USMCA legislation in the House is a vote on the side of our district’s economic security. Whether in discussions with cattlemen in Louisa or small business owners in Chesterfield, I’ve heard firsthand from those I represent about the much-needed benefits of the USMCA,” said Spanberger. “I’ve long called for implementing legislation to come to the floor of the House, and I’m calling on the Senate to take action now to strengthen our markets, secure fair labor and environmental standards, and put our businesses on equal footing with their competitors. Our businesses and farms have waited long enough for this improved agreement—and they’re expecting us to deliver an enacted USMCA.”
“Today’s vote on the USMCA is an important step toward ensuring duty-free market access across most of North America for Virginia consumers, businesses, manufacturers, and farmers,” said Barry DuVal, President and CEO, Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “This historic trade agreement will drive export growth, boost our small businesses in Virginia, and provide much-needed reforms for e-commerce, customs procedures, and financial services. We appreciate Congresswoman Spanberger’s leadership in advocating for all Virginians through this initiative.”
“Virginia Farm Bureau was proud to see USMCA ratified by the House. USMCA builds on the success of NAFTA while modernizing and updating that agreement with important provisions that support U.S. agriculture, and drive American innovation and competitiveness,” said Ben Rowe, National Affairs Coordinator, Virginia Farm Bureau. “At a time when American farmers are facing low commodity prices, natural disasters, and overseas trade wars, the USMCA provides trade certainty and shows bipartisan support for the agriculture industry.”
“The Virginia Agribusiness Council applauds the passage of the USMCA. Access to these two critical export markets is vital to agribusinesses throughout the entire supply chain in the Commonwealth,” said Kyle Shreve, Executive Director, Virginia Agribusiness Council. “It preserves markets for our poultry, cattle and dairy sectors and maintains the zero-tariff platform on all other ag products.”
Last year, Virginia exported $4.3 billion dollars-worth of goods to Canada and Mexico. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, one out of six Virginia manufacturing firms exports to Canada and Mexico. For these manufacturers, the USMCA would raise standards, improve transparency, and end anti-U.S. discrimination from Canada and Mexico—as well as prevent a $466 million increase in taxes due to tariffs.
The USMCA would also establish preferential market access for Central Virginia agricultural exporters. For dairy farmers, the trade agreement would expand market opportunities in Canada, and it would eliminate an unfair milk pricing program that long allowed Canadian farmers to undersell U.S. producers. And for poultry producers, the USMCA would increase access to Canadian markets for chicken and eggs. According to a report from the U.S. International Trade Commission, U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico would grow by nearly 7 percent—and exports to Canada would grow by nearly 6 percent.
Earlier today on the floor of the U.S. House, Spanberger called for her colleagues to pass the USMCA. Click here to watch her full speech. A full transcript of her remarks is below:
Last year, Virginia exported $4.3 billion dollars-worth of goods to Canada and Mexico. 1 out of 6 Virginia manufacturers exports to these two countries—and of these firms, 64 percent are small or medium-sized businesses.
These businesses are the backbone of our economy, and today, they’re looking to Congress to take this vital step toward securing long-term trade stability.
Earlier this month, I made that point clear at a meeting with Vice President Pence. During our discussion, I underscored the USMCA’s potential to stimulate growth across the Seventh District of Virginia.
For Central Virginia businesses, today’s vote is a welcome step toward modernizing NAFTA and staying competitive in the 21st century economy.
For Central Virginia crop and livestock producers, today’s vote means protecting and expanding relationships with critical buyers in Canada and Mexico.
And for Central Virginia workers, today’s vote carries with it a commitment from our trading partners to live up to their labor commitments.
I know that Central Virginia’s economy—and the hardworking men and women who spur it forward—have waited patiently for this day to arrive.
I thank everyone for their work on this—Mr. Chairman, Mr. Ranking Member, Ambassador Lighthizer, and my colleagues in the working group. I urge my colleagues to support the USMCA.
Spanberger has long worked to move the USMCA forward and fought for the trade priorities of Central Virginia businesses, workers, and producers, including by:
- Meeting directly with administration officials to voice the concerns of Central Virginia farms, businesses, and workers. In a May 2019 meeting with Deputy U.S. Trade Representative C.J. Mahoney, Spanberger discussed the status of ongoing USMCA negotiations and the potential benefits of the USMCA for Virginia’s economy. Additionally, in March 2019, she met with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and fellow members of the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus to discuss the status of the USMCA.
- Hearing from Central Virginians about the potential benefits of the USMCA. In October 2019, Spanberger hosted a roundtable on the USMCA and trade with the Chesterfield County Chamber of Commerce and local business owners. And during her 2019 Farm Tour, she heard from farmers and agribusinesses about the need to protect critical trade relationships with buyers in Canada and Mexico.
- Pressing her colleagues to make progress on the USMCA. Last month, Spanberger spoke on the floor of the U.S. House to urge House negotiators and the administration to reach a final deal on the USMCA. Click here to watch her speech.