As we enter the end of summer and the beginning of fall, we have a few things to anticipate: harvest, back-to-school and Husker football. It also means Congress will reconvene following work done across our districts.
There are many things to work on when Congress reconvenes in September. I hope our focus will be trade. It is incredibly important to our economy, particularly agriculture, and we should always be looking to expand markets for American goods and services. Trade is one of my top priorities in the Committee on Ways and Means, which has jurisdiction over trade.
This fall, we must pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. This crucial agreement — which modernizes and improves NAFTA — has already been ratified by Mexico and has the support of the prime minister of Canada.
For the U.S. to ratify this agreement, the process must start in the House with action from the Ways and Means Committee. Although Speaker Nancy Pelosi has not yet indicated if she will bring USMCA to the floor for a vote, there is bipartisan support to get USMCA done. It is my hope she does, as it’s the best interests of all three countries involved. This fall, we have an opportunity to move this trade agreement through Congress. In the process, we will provide an example of mutually beneficial trade, hopefully setting a standard for future trade talks with other nations, such as China, which have been taken to task for unfair trade practices. Farmers have been hit hard by the ongoing trade tensions with China, and I am eager to see President Trump strike a deal.
We have also seen some recent progress on trade with Japan. In May, Japan lifted age restrictions on the importation of U.S. beef, eliminating a barrier which had been in place since 2003. As the co-chair of the U.S.-Japan Caucus, I have long advocated for a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S. and Japan. The reduction of trade barriers between the U.S. and Japan would benefit producers and consumers alike. Without the reduction of these barriers, the U.S. will lose ground in key markets to competing nations such as Australia.
Negotiations between our two nations continue with the hope of putting together a limited trade deal as early as next month. A limited agreement would potentially bring U.S. ag tariff rates in line with our competitors, relieving a burden for our farmers and producers. A long-term deal is in both countries’ interests; however, the limited agreement would be an important step toward a longer term comprehensive agreement.
We have an opportunity to take action on trade, but the work must come first. We cannot afford to let these opportunities pass. I am looking forward to continuing this work once Congress returns in September.