DURYEA — Vice President Mike Pence on Monday visited a Duryea glass manufacturing facility to tout a Trump administration-backed trade deal and urge Northeast Pennsylvania residents to pressure Democrats in Congress to pass the deal.
During his visit to Schott Advanced Optics, Pence also jabbed his predecessor and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. In a preemptive press release earlier in the day, Biden criticized President Donald Trump’s support for the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, or USMCA, by saying “Pennsylvanians will not be fooled.”
Pence said Biden was right.
“Joe, Pennsylvanians will not be fooled. They know the USMCA is a win for Pennsylvania and a win for America. It’s time you got on board,” Pence said.
Pence further blasted Biden, saying that during Biden’s time as vice president under Barack Obama, the country lost tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs that the Obama administration claimed could never come back.
Manufacturers like Schott Advanced Optics, a high-tech glass production facility, are booming under the Trump administration, Pence said. He invited local people to apply for open positions at the company, which is celebrating 50 years in business at the Duryea location.
Pence said the Trump administration has created 500,000 new manufacturing jobs in the last three years and passage of the USMCA in Congress will only continue the progress.
The vice president asked Northeast Pennsylvania residents to remind Biden of that when he visits the area over the next two days.
“If you bump into a familiar face the next few days, tell Joe the United States and Pennsylvania need the USMCA,” Pence said.
Pence’s next target was U.S. Rep Matt Cartwright, a Democrat from Moosic.
“Turn up the heat on Congressman Matt Cartwright,” Pence urged.
Pence has been traveling the country to tout the USMCA in districts won by Trump in 2016, but have a Democratic member of Congress, like Cartwright’s 8th district.
Supporters of the USMCA say it puts the United States on a level playing field in trade with Canada and Mexico, such as putting quotas on auto manufacturing in those countries and expanding America dairy exports.
The USMCA, which has been approved by Trump and the leaders of Mexico and Canada, replaces the North American Free Trade Agreement. Mexico’s legislature has approved the deal, but it still needs to be ratified by the legislatures in the United States and Canada.
The new trade deal has been “languishing” for a year on the desk of Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her fellow Democrats, like Cartwright, need to convince her to introduce it for ratification, Pence said.
Pence said Trump’s tough negotiation skills led to the leaders of the other countries to agree to the deal.
“The man who wrote ‘The Art of The Deal’ drove a hard bargain,” Pence said.
The several hundred people in the audience, mostly Schott workers, seemed supportive of the vice president’s message, frequently applauding.
Pence criticized Obama for once saying he’d need a “magic wand” to bring back lost manufacturing jobs.
“We didn’t need a magic wand. We needed President Donald Trump in the White House,” Pence said.
Prior to Pence, the audience heard from U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Schott North America’s president and CEO Jim Gareau, the head of National Association of Manufacturers Jay Timmons and Schott’s local plant manager Robert Gomeau.
Ross said USMCA is a way better deal than NAFTA.
“USMCA fixes a badly flawed deal,” Ross said.
Schott Advanced Optics produces advanced glass used in the space program, the military, automobile production, the medical field and various other industries.
The Duryea plant is one of seven Schott North America operates in the United States and was the first to open.
Pence, who toured the facility for more than 45 minutes prior to his address, called Schott a vital American company that even manufactured components used in the moon landing in 1969, its first year in business. The products made there not only are used around the world, but around the universe, he noted.
“I’m here today to celebrate the success of this company and thank you,” Pence said.
Greg Ellis, 40, a married father of three from Exeter who has been working at Schott for 20 years, said he and his coworkers were excited for the visit and all came voluntarily.
“This is not something that happens everyday,” Ellis said. “It’s nice to show off our company.”
Pence spoke in front of a sign that read, “Trade Makes America. Time For USMCA!” Another nearby sign read “We Make It Here. Help Us Sell It There” and displayed the flags of the United States, Canada and Mexico.
Timmons, president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers, which co-hosted the event, noted three quarters of Schott’s sales are outside of the United States. USMCA is important because Canada and Mexico buy more U.S.-manufactured goods than the next 11 countries combined, he said.
“That’s why manufacturers are raising our voices in unison, calling on Congress to ratify this agreement and provide businesses with a level playing field and certainty to compete, grow and win in the global market,” Timmons said.
Pence thanked the “hard working, blue collar men and women” of Northeast Pennsylvania who he said were “forgotten” under previous administrations. He asked them to stick with the Trump administration, using Trump’s new campaign slogan to conclude.