Trade Policy and Political Maneuvers Were Hot Topics at 16th Annual West Texas Legislative Summit
SAN ANGELO, TX — The 16th Annual West Texas Legislative Summit examined how federal trade policy is going to impact your pocketbook in the near and long term. We also found a state representative mulling over the task of running for Congressman Mike Conaway's seat. Conaway announced his retirement last week. The event, orchestrated by the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, saw a wide variety of state and federal elected officials attend.
During his keynote address, Ambassador Gregg Dodd, Chief Agricultural Negotiator with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, broke down the landscape of the current trade policy of the Trump Administration. It involves getting the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, ratified through Congress, executing the China-U.S. trade war to a positive conclusion for the U.S., trade policy with the European Union, and now with Brexit eminent, a UK trade agreement.
All of these efforts will impact the U.S. economy and the stock markets.
With USMCA, Dodd said U.S. agribusiness has much to gain. U.S. farmers will be able to sell into Canada grain at a higher price and it will greatly enhance the trade of dairy products to Canada.
Congressman Mike Conaway is championing the passage of USMCA as his final big push before his retirement in January 2021. “We have to pass the USMCA,” Conaway said.
Conaway, who chaired the House Ag Committee up until Republicans lost control of the U.S. House said the benefits to agribusiness alone make USMCA a better agreement than 1994’s North American Free Trade Agreement. He said he believed there were the votes in the House to pass but Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi has the power to withhold bringing the USMCA to the floor of the House for a vote.
WATCH: Exclusive interview with Congressman Mike Conaway:
Tom Sell, Managing Partner for the lobbyist company Combest, Sell, and Associates, said he is more than certain the votes are there in the House for USMCA to pass.
Conaway also defended the Trump Administration’s strategy with China on Trade. “With China’s President Xi Jinping, we have a schoolyard bully,” he said. Citing previous agreements with China that were broken by China, Conaway said to be successful, eventually one has to face the bully.
President Donald Trump said multiple times that the U.S. economy is in better shape than China’s to survive a trade war. The counter to that is that China isn’t a free society, so as a communist country, it can endure more economic pain.
“Watch the protests happening now in Hong Kong,” Conaway countered. China is working ruthlessly to prevent unrest happening on the island from spreading to the mainland. Conaway also noted that Xi’s close associates are in business in China and are sensitive to losing money in a recession as a result of a trade war with the U.S. Conaway said the protests are over stopping a proposed extradition law — a criminal justice issue not an economic one. A worsening economy will not be good for Chinese efforts to curtail the burgeoning Hong Kong protests nonetheless.
A key ally of State Rep. Drew Darby in the Texas House, attorney and State Rep. Brooks Landgraf (R - District 81, Odessa), said he would announce a decision to run for Conaway’s congressional seat “within weeks.” Landgraf said when he arrived at the Texas House for this first legislative session, he sought the mentorship of Darby and his office was located near Darby’s. In the 2019 legislative session, Landgraf ‘s third, he worked on securing more funding for the Texas Department of Transportation to repair and upgrade roads in his district centered on Odessa. Roads leading to working locations in the Permian Basin were a safety issue, not one of commuting convenience. He won $1.9 billion to spend from the Odessa office of TxDOT over the next two years. Landgraf, a graduate of Texas A&M University, currently serves as the Vice Chairman of the Transportation Committee in the Texas House. His cousin is Conley Brooks, a prominent businessman in San Angelo.
While the Summit was in progress, Midland City Councilman J. Ross Lacy announced his candidacy for Conaway’s seat.
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