Vice President Mike Pence will make a stop in Artesia Wednesday, Aug 21.
Pence will speak at a trade policy event about the need for Congress to pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, according to a news release from America First Policies, a nonprofit organization hosting the event.
The event, which will include a panel discussion of local business leaders followed by a speech by Pence, will take place at Elite Well Services in Artesia, the release states. The presentation will start at 12:30 p.m., according to the release.
The USMCA is a renegotiated version of the North American Free Trade Agreement, a controversial trade agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada signed into law in 1993. President Donald Trump has decried NAFTA, claiming the landmark trade deal is unfair to American workers and industry.
Although USMCA has passed Mexico’s Senate and Canada’s House of Commons, the trade accord still must be approved by both the U.S. House and Senate.
Local and state Republicans have welcomed news of Pence’s visit, framing it as a chance to promote the state’s burgeoning oil and gas industry.
“President Pence’s official visit to Artesia is highlighting the critical role that New Mexico plays in making America energy independent. He will also highlight the importance of passing the USMCA agreement in strengthening our state and national economy,” said Steve Pearce, chairman of the Republican Party of New Mexico.
State Rep. James Townsend, the top Republican in the New Mexico House of Representatives and an Artesia resident, said the USMCA could impact the economy of southeastern New Mexico.
“The area produces ag products, petroleum products that could be affected. I welcome the vice president to New Mexico. We appreciate him taking the time to listen to New Mexicans and to help our state,” Townsend said.
Pence’s trip to Artesia will be the second time in nine months he has visited southeast New Mexico. In October, Pence attended a campaign rally hosted by the Republican Party of New Mexico at the Roswell International Air Center, where he was accompanied by most of the party’s candidates for state and congressional races in New Mexico.
The Trump campaign has identified New Mexico as a state their candidate could possibly win next year, despite having lost the state by 8 points in 2016 and the poor showing by Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections.
Townsend said Thursday he thinks the state’s five electoral votes will be up for grabs next year.
“I think New Mexico is becoming more and more important in the upcoming election,” he said.
Information from the Associated Press is included in this story.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.