Government

Rep. Abby Finkenauer talks tariffs, trade in Waterloo

Iowa U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer speaks during a town hall meeting at the UAW Local 838 in Waterloo, Iowa, on Friday, April 26, 2019. (Brandon Pollock/Waterloo Courier)
Iowa U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer speaks during a town hall meeting at the UAW Local 838 in Waterloo, Iowa, on Friday, April 26, 2019. (Brandon Pollock/Waterloo Courier)

WATERLOO — U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer is concerned about the future of Iowa farmers.

During a town hall at Waterloo’s United Auto Workers 838 Hall on Friday, she addressed questions about the under-negotiation United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement.

About 40 to 50 people attended Friday’s town hall, the first of three in Iowa this weekend and Finkenauer’s first in Waterloo since being elected to represent Iowa’s 1st Congressional District in November. On Saturday, she will be in Cedar Rapids from 2 to 3 p.m. at Kirkwood Community College’s Iowa Hall Room AB and in Dubuque from 10 to 11 a.m. at Hempstead High School Auditorium.

The USMCA and tariffs have caused some Iowa farmers and Finkenauer to worry about the future of produce prices.

“We were supposed to have a deal in March, and then it was supposed to be April, and now we’re about to be in May and nothing has been done,” Finkenauer said. “We have to make sure the administration is hearing the stories I’m hearing.”

Congress has yet to receive a copy of the USMCA.

“It hasn’t yet been delivered,” Finkenauer said.

Finkenauer, 30, said she is worried about Iowans affected by tariffs and an uncertain future, including her brother-in-law and sister who are corn and soybean farmers with two children.

“We need a deal, and we need it done,” Finkenauer said. “It’s not just about numbers. It’s people’s lives.”

During the event, people were given numbered tickets that were placed in a fish bowl, and if their number was drawn they could ask a question.

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One person asked Finkenauer about her views on policies put out by other freshmen Democrats in the U.S. House, including the Green New Deal, “Medicare for All” and a $15 minimum wage.

Finkenauer said she supports a public option for Medicare — meaning people could choose to opt-in to Medicare for health coverage.

“The reality is you’ve got folks all across our state and all across the country who are struggling right now and not able to get care that they need because they can’t even afford it,” Finkenauer said. “That something that should’ve, quite frankly, been done with the (Affordable Care Act) to begin with and wasn’t.”

She went on to pledge that a Democratic controlled U.S. House of Representatives would never take away protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“We have to do more than what we are doing, especially on the federal level, when it comes to health care,” Finkenauer said.

She wants to see the minimum wage increase incrementally, she said.

Finkenauer also said she was happy to see discussions about climate change because of the Green New Deal.

“Climate change is real. I believe science — I think we all do,” she said.

She wants to see something stronger than a resolution go forward.

“I want to figure out ways where we can actually have real policy here, through the committees I’m working on, that address climate change and take it seriously,” Finkenauer said.

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