VP Mike Pence: ‘I came to Iowa to turn up the heat’

At an event in Waukee, Vice President Mike Pence encouraged attendees to pressure their representatives to ratify the USMCA as soon as possible.

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VP Mike Pence: ‘I came to Iowa to turn up the heat’

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a during a farm visit hosted by America First Policies in Waukee on Wednesday, October 9, 2019.

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a during a farm visit hosted by America First Policies in Waukee on Wednesday, October 9, 2019.

Shivansh Ahuja

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a during a farm visit hosted by America First Policies in Waukee on Wednesday, October 9, 2019.

Shivansh Ahuja

Shivansh Ahuja

Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a during a farm visit hosted by America First Policies in Waukee on Wednesday, October 9, 2019.

Sarah Watson, Politics Editor

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Vice President Mike Pence told a crowd of 500 people at a Waukee farm Wednesday that he was there to “turn up the heat” on House Democrats to pass the United-States-Mexico-Canada-Agreement.

“I came to Iowa today to turn up the heat,” he said. “I came to Iowa today to say to the Democrats in Congress it’s time to do their job put politics aside, put politics aside and pass the USMCA this year.”  

He and other Republicans have accused Democrats — including Iowans in Congress — of holding up the USMCA deal, which is currently sitting in the Democratic-controlled U.S. House of Representatives.

The USMCA, a re-negotiated version of NAFTA, is a trade agreement between the three biggest North American countries. In order to go into effect, the agreement has to be ratified by each country’s legislative branch. The three countries’ leaders signed the agreement in 2018, before Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. Mexico lawmakers ratified the proposal in June, but the proposal has yet to be approved by Congress and Canadian lawmakers. 

Three of Iowa’s four representatives are Democrats, and Pence called on attendees to reach out to their representatives to ratify the USMCA — especially Rep. Cindy Axne in Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District, where Waukee is located. 

In the last month, Reps. Abby Finkenauer and Cindy Axne, both Democrats, have disputed that claim, and expressed a positive outlook for passing the USMCA. 

In early September, Axne told Radio Iowa USMCA was in a “good place,” in bipartisan negotiations. She said, however, that she had concerns about patents for prescription drugs, and expressed she wanted to ensure fair labor standards in Mexico.

She’ll hold a roundtable Thursday in Waukee as part of her 16-county tour throughout Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District.

Canada and Mexico are Iowa’s two biggest trading partners.

In an April study from the U.S. International Trade Commission on the USMCA, it said the two elements that would have the most significant effects on the U.S. economy are the country of origin rules, meaning an automobile has to have at least 75 percent of its components manufactured in one of three countries to qualify for zero tariffs, and the digital-trade provisions, which would prohibit tariffs on things like music and e-books. 

The study also found the new agreement would increase the U.S. GDP by $68 billion and create 176,000 U.S. jobs. The manufacturing industry would see the largest increase in wages and employment, according to the report.

The Pence event was hosted by America First Policies, a nonprofit that supports President Trump, and held at Manning Farms in Waukee. 

It’s the sixth event in a series of events across the country hosted by the organization promoting passage of the USMCA. The series, called “USMCA: A Better Deal for American Workers,” features local agriculture specialists. 

Drake University student Jacque Murphy, 18, missed a class to see the vice president speak. She grew up on a family farm and said she could see her family appreciated Trump policies relating to agriculture, such as a recent announcement of a 15-billion-gallon ethanol blending requirement by the Trump administration.

Fellow Drake student, Gabrielle Prill, 19, said she liked seeing a Republican politician come to Iowa — since many Democratic presidential hopefuls are coming to the Hawkeye State ahead of the February caucuses. 

“A lot of people I talk to on a daily basis don’t agree with my politics,” she said.

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