Home News Local News Torres Small calls for “ancillary agreements” to USMCA

Torres Small calls for “ancillary agreements” to USMCA

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, speaks with an attendee outside Pearson Auditorium during a high school graduation ceremony in May at the New Mexico Military Institute. Torres Small said Wednesday she wants to see amendments attached to the existing USMCA to address issues such as labor protections and prescription drugs. (Daily Record File Photo)

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U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, has concerns about the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, also known as USMCA, and wants to see “ancillary supportive agreements” added to the existing overall trade deal.

Torres Small, whose New Mexico 2nd Congressional District runs from southern Bernalillo County down to the Mexican border, said in a telephone press conference she would like to see ancillary supportive agreements added to the deal negotiated by the Trump administration and leaders from Mexico and Canada that would address concerns she has with the agreement such as prescription drug prices and labor protections that could be affected by the agreement.

“We’re trying very hard to make sure that people, that seniors can afford their prescriptions, and an agreement that could limit our ability to do that gives me some concern,” she said.

The USMCA is a trilateral trade deal agreed to by the Trump administration and leaders of Canada and Mexico last November to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, also known as NAFTA.

Torres Small said a strong trade relationship is important for the economy, especially for communities along the southern border, but such an agreement must provide certainty to business, something Trump undermined when he pulled the U.S. out of NAFTA.

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“We’ve been asked to help solve a problem that was caused because of the removal of an agreement. Now that that box has been opened we need to make sure that it is the best agreement possible,” she said.

When asked whether an agreement without such amendments would win Torres Small’s support, a spokesperson said Thursday that she did not know.

“As with any vote, the congresswoman would carefully evaluate the final legislative text to ensure its in the best interest of New Mexico. Without seeing the final text of the proposed ancillary supportive agreements to the USMCA, it would be difficult to say if she would vote in favor or against,” said Paloma Perez, communications director for Torres Small.

Although the Canadian House of Commons and Mexican Senate have already voted to approve it, the USMCA has not been scheduled for a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The Trump administration has made passage of the USMCA by the end of the year a top item on their legislative agenda.

In August, Vice President Mike Pence visited Artesia, where he touted the benefits the USMCA could have on New Mexico’s oil and gas industry and overall economy.

“So the USMCA is not just a big win for America, it is a big win for New Mexico and we’ve got to get Congress to pass it into law,” he told the crowd at the event in Artesia.

At least two of three Republicans vying for their party’s nomination to defeat Torres Small in 2020 — Claire Chase, a director of governmental affairs for Mack Energy and chairman of the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, and former state Rep. Yvette Herrell, of Alamogordo — have come out in favor of the USMCA.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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