Pence to visit Springettsbury business, pitch trade deal

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Vice President Mike Pence rallies with senate candidate Lou Barletta during a stop at Lancaster Airport in Lititz Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. Pence was joined by Republican incumbent candidates Scott Perry and Lloyd Smucker during the event. Bill Kalina photo

Vice President Mike Pence will tout the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in York County on Thursday amid growing tensions between President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans.

Pence's visit comes as Trump's poll numbers continue to slump in key battleground states, including Pennsylvania.  

Pence will speak at 3:40 p.m. to workers at JLS Automation in Springettsbury Township. Afterward, he will be heading to a state GOP fundraiser in Camp Hill.

A Pence spokeswoman said he will touch on the trade pact and other matters, but she declined to provide more detail. The visit comes just a day after Canadian Consul Phyllis Yaffe visited Johnson Controls in New Freedom to advocate for the deal.

More:Pence visit to close I-83 ramps in northern York County

“When we have the talk tomorrow it’s not only a combination of efforts to energize the party but also to let everyone know the great success Pennsylvania has had as a result of the president’s ‘Make America Great Again’ agenda,” state GOP spokesman Jason Gottesman said.

York Dispatch reporter Logan Hullinger will be covering the vice president's visit. Follow his live updates on Twitter:

More:Toomey renews call for tariff oversight after Trump threatens Mexico

More:Trump hitting Mexico with 5% tariff in response to migrants

President Trump, along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, signed the USMCA last year.

However, no legislature has adopted the agreement drafted to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump claims put U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage.

The trade pitch comes as the Trump campaign hits swing states that the president won in 2016 but may become more problematic next year. Trump’s net approval has decreased 17% in Pennsylvania since he took office, according to data technology firm Morning Consult.

The polling aggregation website Real Clear Politics also reports Trump is averaging a 43.8% approval rating nationwide compared to a 53.2% disapproval rating.

Gottesman, pointing to polling inaccuracies in the 2016 elections, asserted the public shouldn’t count on polling this time around either.

Polling numbers aside, patience regarding the president’s trade policies is also wearing thin in the U.S Senate.

Although the U.S. earlier this month dropped its aluminum and steel tariffs on Mexico and Canada, the president now plans to place a 5% tariff on Mexican imports beginning next week in response to Central American immigration. That would gradually increase to 25%.

The move pitted the president against GOP senators, some of whom have asserted the tariffs could weaken the chances of the trade agreement receiving congressional approval. Mexico also has proposed levying its own tariffs on the U.S. in response.

The concerns have led to GOP talks of legislation to block the tariffs and, unlike with the reallocation of border wall funding, the higher chamber could have a veto-proof majority this time around.

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., last week joined the opposition by calling the tariffs harmful to U.S. consumers.

“The president’s use of tax hikes on Americans as a tool to affect change in Mexican policy is misguided," Toomey said in a news release. "It is past time for Congress to step up and reassert its constitutional responsibility on tariffs."

Local business leaders have also condemned the tariffs, emphasizing the impact on U.S. consumers and local industries like manufacturing and agriculture.

Unlike the visit to JLS Automation, the GOP dinner is open to the public. Tickets are available at

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.