Pence asks Tennesseans to support Mexico-Canada trade deal

Friday, October 4, 2019, Vol. 43, No. 40

GOODLETTSVILLE (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence on Monday urged a group of Tennesseans to call the state's two Democratic congressmen and ask them to help pass the Trump administration's trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

Pence's remarks came during a speech to several hundred people at a Tyson Foods plant in Goodlettsville, just outside of Nashville.

The event was sponsored by Trade Works for America, a bipartisan coalition advocating passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.

Pence said he believes the votes are there to pass the agreement if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will bring it up for a vote.

Democrats have been negotiating with the administration over the agreement for months. They want stronger protections for workers and the environment. They also want to jettison a provision they see as a giveaway to big pharmaceutical companies.

The USMCA would replace the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, which eliminated most trade barriers between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Critics — including Trump, labor unions and many Democratic lawmakers — have called NAFTA a job killer for America. The do-over aims to nudge manufacturing back to the U.S., but it requires congressional approval.

"It's time for the Democrats in Congress to set politics aside and pass the USMCA," Pence said Monday.

He urged attendees to call U.S. Reps. Jim Cooper of Nashville and Steve Cohen of Memphis and tell them, "Tennessee needs the USMCA."

Pence was joined by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee at the event, who both spoke in favor of the trade agreement.

Pence did not address the impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump directly, but did say, "Too many in Congress have spent the last two and a half years on endless investigations, trying to overturn the will of the American people in the last election."

Pence was expected to attend a fundraiser later in the day for Trump's reelection.