It was my privilege and honor to serve in the Arizona Legislature and to fight for the priorities of my district and region. Even since leaving public office, my concern for my district and our state has not waned. Some might consider a former state legislator weighing in on the discussion in Washington regarding the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) going out of one’s lane, but I am left to wonder how anyone in elected office can remain silent. Work isn’t to be done in silos and success isn’t achieved in a vacuum. The USMCA will update and improve our nation’s trade policies so that our communities, states and our country as a whole all benefit, and all elected officials, whether local, statewide, or national, should support this agreement.
Arizona has a lot to gain from passing USMCA. Some cities within our state will feel the impact faster and with more force than others, but all of Arizona’s citizens will benefit. From ranchers and farmers to manufacturers, from employers to employees, from producers to consumers, there is much to be gained if passed and much to be lost if not.
Currently, more than 228,000 Arizona jobs are directly related to Arizona’s trade with our neighbors in Mexico and in Canada. More than 11 billion dollars in goods and services are exported from Arizona to Mexico and Canada. From produce to engines to computers, the Arizona workforce produces what Mexico and Canada need. In the manufacturing sector alone, those two countries purchase more than two-fifths of our state’s manufacturing exports, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.
The USMCA provides important safeguards for U.S. producers: the agreement levels the playing field for dairymen, protects intellectual property, opens new markets for poultry exports, cuts red tape for small businesses, and provides new, enforceable labor standards. For these reasons and more, every elected official at the local and state level should be reaching out to our state’s representatives in Washington, D.C., urging them to support the USMCA when it comes up for a vote. We should thank those who have committed their support, including our two U.S. senators, and ask those who have not yet committed a yes vote, to do so and stand with Arizona citizens, workers and businesses on this very important issue. A commitment to a yes vote on the USMCA is taking a public stand for the best interests of Arizona workers and our economy, and that should be the priority of every member of our congressional delegation.
With the 2020 election rapidly approaching and ongoing turmoil in Washington, convincing this Congress to do anything will grow increasingly harder. One often wonders if what they do on the other side of the country really matters – will it impact me, or my friends, neighbors and co-workers? The answer regarding the USMCA is simple: Yes, it will. So, while it may be tempting for some in our delegation to deny support in order to withhold a win from a president they disagree with politically, or even personally, it would be a disservice to those they are charged with representing.
In short, the USMCA is important to the economic success of our state and its citizens. Our elected officials must do the right thing. Please join me and take a stand for Arizona and take a stand in support of the USMCA.
Catherine Miranda is an educator, advocate, and four-term former Arizona legislator from Phoenix who remains committed to issues that improve the life of those in her community and Arizona.