Call it a Christmas Miracle: House Democrats and the White House struck a deal. Yes, you read that right.
On Tuesday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the House will move forward to vote on the USMCA — a “NAFTA 2.0” of sorts that, if ratified, will replace our 25-year old trade deal with Mexico and Canada.
With this agreement, President Trump has secured a signature trade victory at the very time House members are voting to impeach him. On that note, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he’ll pause any vote on USMCA until after the impeachment trial is completed, an announcement that drew fire from Democrats. The peace was nice while it lasted!
If passed, the U.S. International Trade Commission estimates USMCA could add up to $235 billion in new economic growth and 589,000 jobs to the U.S. economy within the next five years. It’s got a strong support base in Arizona, too; Gov. Doug Ducey has been among the deal’s most vocal champions, noting that more than 228,000 Arizona jobs rely on trade with our North American neighbors.
Highlights of the USMCA include:
- Updates and modernizes intellectual property protections critical to innovation, job creation and economic growth.
- Includes a new, comprehensive set of provisions that protect and encourage digital trade and ensure U.S. competitiveness in the modern economy.
- Protects the rights of workers to collectively bargain to improve labor outcomes.
- Establishes modern, enforceable environmental obligations including combating wildlife trafficking and addressing pressing issues like air quality and more.
- Provides new market access for American dairy and poultry products while preserving the zero-tariff platform on all other agricultural products.
Veridus Clients in the news
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson Electric Power is teaming up with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona to provide energy-efficient lighting and faucet kits to low income residents who qualify for food assistance.
Throughout December, residents who receive food assistance through the food bank will also receive a free energy-saving kit that includes eight LED light bulbs, a low-flow shower head, bathroom and kitchen faucet aerators and an LED night light.
The kits, a $40 value, can result in an annual energy savings of about $75, the utility said in a news release.
TEP is providing the food bank with 11,000 of these kits, which will be distributed while supplies last at its distribution centers in Amado, Marana, Green Valley and Tucson, as well as at the Caridad Community Kitchen.
Uber is launching a new pilot program to help ensure the safety of riders and drivers.
The new program will give users the option to have a four-digit verification code to provide their driver before starting a trip, according to a news release. This extra level of verification will help to ensure that drivers are picking up the correct riders.
This pilot program was introduced in San Francisco, and Phoenix is one of seven cities to be included in the program, the press release said. Many users will be able to add this feature in the settings of their app beginning Tuesday, and by the end of the week all users will have the option for this feature.
To allow this feature, riders need to go into their settings and tap “Verifying Your Ride.” From there, riders have the option to have the code for all rides or only at night, from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., the news release said.
Once the feature is enabled, riders will be given a four-digit code in the app while their driver is en route. When the driver arrives, riders will need to verbally give the driver the code and they must enter the correct code in their app in order to begin the ride, according to the news release.
The driver is not given the code, only the rider is, so the ride cannot be started until the correct code is entered, said Andrew Hasbun, a spokesman for Uber.
Uber included a video in its press release showing what the new feature looks like for riders and drivers. […]
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In other news …
Arizona, Nevada and Mexico will start taking less water from the Colorado River in January as a hard-fought set of agreements kicks in to reduce the risk of reservoirs falling to critically low levels.
The two U.S. states agreed to leave a portion of their water allotments in Lake Mead under a deal with California called the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan, or DCP, which the states’ representatives signed at Hoover Dam in May.
California agreed to contribute water at a lower trigger point if reservoir levels continue to fall. And Mexico agreed under a separate accord to take steps to help prop up Lake Mead, the nation’s largest reservoir near Las Vegas, which now sits 40% full after a nearly 20-year run of mostly dry years.
The agreements, including another deal in the river’s Upper Basin, increase the odds of Western states making it through the next seven years without reservoir levels crashing. But researchers examining the latest climate projections have also warned of the possibility that declines in the river’s flow could force water curtailments in the coming years, and they’ve suggested looking at options to reduce risks. […]
Phoenix Business Journal
Despite uncertainty about national economic policy and the ongoing trade war with China, the U.S. economy likely will remain stable into 2020 and Arizona’s economy will do even better, according to experts at Arizona State University’s annual economic forecast luncheon.
While national growth projections are not nearly as optimistic as growth during 2018 and early 2019, a recently revised GDPNow report forecasts 2% GDP growth in the fourth quarter of this year, a drastic jump from an earlier projection of only 0.4%, said Robert Barro, a Harvard University economist and keynote speaker at Wednesday’s luncheon at the Phoenix Convention Center.
[…] As for Arizona, there is no sign the state will go into a recession during 2020, said Lee McPheters, research professor of economics and director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at ASU.
Arizona’s job growth is expected to slow to 2.3% in 2020, down from 2.6% in 2019, he said. Those estimates would continue the state’s long-term employment expansion. The state added 74,000 jobs in 2019 and is expected to add another 70,000 in 2020, which will bring Arizona’s total employment to 3 million, an all-time high, McPheters said.
Arizona was ranked second, following Florida, for people relocating from other states, McPheters said.
[…] Since the recession, Arizona’s leading growth sectors have been construction, health care, manufacturing, science and technology, and transportation and warehousing.
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) will sponsor four presidential debates in key early voting states in January and February, giving candidates a final chance to introduce themselves before the first votes take place.
CNN will air the first debate of the new year at Drake University on January 14 in Des Moines in partnership with the Des Moines Register.
Days after Iowans caucus, ABC will host a debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester with WMUR-TV and Apple News. That debate, the eighth of the cycle, will take place February 7.
Two weeks later, on February 19, NBC News and MSNBC will host a debate in Las Vegas, just ahead of that state’s early caucuses. The television networks will partner with The Nevada Independent, a nonprofit news site run by veteran Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston.
And CBS News will host a February 25 debate with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute at the Gaillard Center in Charleston. The DNC said Twitter would be a partner for the debate.
The DNC did not lay out how candidates would qualify for the upcoming debates. Candidates needed to hit 4 percent in at least four polls recognized by the DNC, or 6 percent in at least two polls conducted in early voting states, and receive donations from at least 200,000 unique donors to qualify for the sixth debate, to be held next week in Los Angeles.
Only seven Democratic candidates hit those criteria: Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D), retired hedge fund manager Tom Steyer and businessman Andrew Yang.
Three other candidates — Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro — reached the donor threshold without notching enough support in public opinion polls. […]