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After impeachment split, Arizona's members of Congress agree on USMCA trade deal

Arizona Republic logo Arizona Republic 12/19/2019 Ronald J. Hansen and Russ Wiles, Arizona Republic
Todd Young, John Barrasso, Mitch McConnell, Roy Blunt standing next to a person in a suit and tie: McConnell says USMCA on hold until after impeachment trial © Provided by USA TODAY McConnell says USMCA on hold until after impeachment trial

A day after the rancorous, party-line vote to impeach President Donald Trump, Arizona's House delegation came together to unanimously vote in favor of Trump's revised trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

The 385-41 House vote on the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement on Thursday leaves the deal pending in the Senate, which isn't expected to take it up until after Trump's impeachment trial is over early in 2020. All nine of Arizona's House members voted for the measure.

The USMCA deal, sometimes called NAFTA 2.0, would effectively replace the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Its passage in the House represents a political victory for Trump, and a model of rare, cross-party collaboration with Democrats. 

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The deal's advocates, including many in Arizona's congressional delegation, expect it will further bolster trade with the state's No. 1 trade partner, Mexico.

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Among its key provisions, the deal would require the production of a greater share of auto parts in North America to avoid tariffs, provide expanded protection of intellectual property across the continent, make it easier for Mexicans to form labor unions and help dairy farmers gain wider access to markets in all three countries.

Arizona's delegation, like those in other border states, eventually backed the measure that Trump negotiated in November 2018, and that House Democrats modified throughout recent months. The final product won the rare support of the AFL-CIO.

"When (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) and I agree on an issue, there's something there," said Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who is one of the most conservative members of the House.

Even while supporting the measure, Gosar noted his concern that it provides "broad legal immunity to Big Tech, who use it as a shield from accountability."

Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Ariz., said the USMCA is of special value to Arizona, which has outsize trade of all types with Mexico.

"Those of us in border states understand the value of trading with our neighbors," Stanton said. "I can tell you, growing trade relations with Mexico and Canada is essential to Arizona, and this new agreement will offer a big lift to our local companies. Already in Arizona nearly 230,000 jobs rely on across-the-border commerce."

Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., maintained that the deal builds on the corporate tax changes enacted in 2017 that made the U.S. more competitive internationally, and can help prolong the current economic growth.

"I wish we could have done this a year ago, but we're finally getting it done," he said. "We're living almost in a miracle of economic growth and economic stability. This just actually adds one more leg that we can keep this going."

Rep. Tom O'Halleran, D-Ariz., praised the deal, saying the "final agreement is a triumph for hardworking families, our Arizona agriculture producers, businesses of all sizes, and rural communities that are too often overlooked."

U.S. Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., welcomed the deal's passage in the House and said, "I can't wait to vote yes" to it in the Senate.

Arizona business groups applaud passage

Arizona business leaders applauded the deal's passage in the House.

Glenn Hamer, president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said Arizona’s economy will benefit.

"From e-commerce to agribusiness to our emerging automotive sector, all segments of the Arizona economy win under this agreement," he said in a statement.

Trade with North American partners Mexico and Canada helps support 228,000 jobs in Arizona, Hamer added.

Allison Gilbreath, executive director of the Arizona Manufacturers Council, said the group is "thrilled" with the House's action.

"The North American manufacturing supply chain is so deeply integrated across borders that maintaining tariff-free trade was essential to ensuring and enhancing the sector’s competitiveness," she said in a statement.

Reach the reporter Ronald J. Hansen at or 602-444-4493. Follow him on Twitter @ronaldjhansen.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: After impeachment split, Arizona's members of Congress agree on USMCA trade deal


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