After a busy day speaking with constituents in Ardmore and Madill, U.S. Sen. James Lankford stopped by Marietta Friday afternoon where he addressed the issues of trade, tariffs and Iran before taking questions from the audience.
“The tariff issues and the trade issues are starting to come to a head,” Lankford said. He brought up the USMCA, the new trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada, which was recently ratified by Mexico. He said because of constitutional requirements, the trade deal will have to be passed by the House of Representatives before going to the Senate because of a revenue measure contained within the new deal.
“Here’s the unique challenge, (Speaker) Nancy Pelosi when she was speaker before did not pass trade measures. She doesn’t like trade measures, so she blocked them when she was speaker,” Lankford said.
He went on to say that during this term as Speaker she might be more motivated to see a trade deal pass.
“Some of the Democrats who are in the house right now are in an argument with Nancy Pelosi because the old line, more conservative Democrats there in the House are trying to be able to pass this trade agreement through. Some of the new Democrats who just got elected into the House that are Socialists — and I don’t say that pejoratively, they say they’re socialists — they don’t like it. So some of the Democrats who are in the House are coming to Pelosi saying we want a vote,” Lankford said.
By passing the trade agreement, Lankford said he believes the “more conservative Democrats” will send a message that says “yes, I’m a capitalist  and I’m also a Democrat.”
Lankford went on to say that if it comes to the floor, it could be passed as early as Labor Day.
“Right now the big unknown is the House of Representatives and whether they’re going to pass it. I think they are,” Lankford said. “I think they’ve got the numbers to be able to do it. It’ll be kicking and screaming all the way to the very end, but I think they will. If it goes through the House, it’ll certainly go through the Senate.”
Lankford then touched on the hot-button issue of Iran and the potential for war.
“I’ve heard (from) the media the President’s interested in going to war with Iran. That’s not true,” Lankford said. “The President is trying to get us out of Afghanistan, is trying to get us out of Iraq, is trying to get us out of Syria. He’s not trying to get us into a war with Iran. But Iran is being who Iran is.
He then brought up two reasons why President Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018. The first being the deal had a 10-year “sunset date” at which point Iran could potentially begin pursuing nuclear weapons. The second reason involved the way the agreement was structured.
“Number two is the agreement was set up in such a way that we couldn’t do sanctions for their normal terrorism. Because they could then back out of their nuclear agreements if we put more sanctions on them,” Lankford said. “Hezbollah in Lebanon is funded by Iran. Bashar al-Assad in that dictatorship in Syria was propped up by Iran. The civil war in Yemen right now and the war against Saudi Arabia is funded by Iran. The terrorism activities happening in Iraq right now are done by Iran. This is who they are.”
He said the recent take down of an American drone by Iran has now made the situation more volatile.
“What’s changed is they shot down one of our drones — over international waters by the way,” Lankford said. “That’s a big shift. That’s not what they have done (in the past). So the push is Iran cannot continue with their normal terrorism and they can’t go after a nuclear weapon. We’re finding a way to diplomatically surround them but they cannot attack our drones and our planes and ships.”
He said putting one of our aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf, along with additional troops, is meant to be a deterrent to Iranian escalation, and not a preparation for war.