Congress should make a New Years resolution to support free trade in 2019.

A numberofpundits have assumed thatas new leaderstakeformal control of the House of Representatives on January 3, they will embrace their partys traditional protectionism.

Perhaps this is even a safe bet.In December, Nancy Pelosi, the most likelyspeakerof the 116th Congress, issued awarning:The Housemay not approve the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), negotiated by the Trump administration to replace NAFTA.

Thescrambled politics of our time, however,offers an important lesson: Dont assume anything.

Since the election of President Trump, Democratic support for free-trade agreements has soared. Two-thirds of Democrats now believe that these deals are a good thing for the country, according to thePew Research Center.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal last month, aretiredDemocratic congressman from Floridadelivered a blunt messageto hisformer colleagues: You might not be backing trade, but our base has beat you to it.

James Bacchus argued that the mainstream of his party is comprised neither of factory workers who blame foreign trade for theirwoesnorofanti-globalization protestors who grab headlines. Rather, he wrote, Democrats live mostly in technologically advanced and digitally engaged metropolitan areas and are eager, productive participants in the global economy who benefit from globalization.

As a farmer in New Jersey, Ive spent decadessupportingagriculture and trade politics, starting at the county level in the 1970s and eventually rising to become president of the New Jersey Farm Bureau.Along the way, Ive gotten to know a lot of politicians.

Thishasallowed me to go on trade missions and become a strong advocate on the national level for trade agreements that improvemarketopportunities for farmers.Ive always believed in the necessity of trade, starting with the economic principle that for every 1 percent of agricultural product that flows outside normal channels of commercesoybean sales to Germany, for instancefarm revenues grow by 5 percent.

As for the politics,Ive seen it all before, including a Democrat president who understood the benefits of free trade:In the 1990s,Bill Clinton easily could have let NAFTA die, as Pelosi now threatens to do with its potential successor, USMCA. Instead, he led an effort to secure enough Democratic votes to combine with Republican supporters and win approval for a deal that has improved the flow of goods and services throughout our continent.

This is why I think USMCAultimatelywill pass: A substantial number of Democrats will see the advantage of the pact. Theyll understand that our economy needs this modernized agreement. Theyll also hear from constituents who expect legislators to represent the interests of their districts.

Democrats who back USMCA will have to overcome their anti-Trump prejudices,andIm hopeful that enough of them will be able to do this. If Ive learned anything about politicians, its that they respond well to common-sense argumentsabout what their constituents want and need. If just a handful announce their supportofUSMCA, more will join them.

Republicanlawmakersface different challenges. Support for free tradeamong their base ofvotersis split, according to Pew: 46 percent believe that trade agreements have been a bad thing for the United States and 43 percent regard them as a good thing.

This is another example of how muchPresidentTrump has changedthepolitical landscape. Before hiselection, most rank-and-file Republicans favored trade agreements, according to Pews surveys.

Now theyre playing a game of follow the leader: Theyre going wherePresidentTrump has tried to take them, even if that meansplacing to the sidelinestheir traditional views about trade.

The good news is that althoughPresidentTrump was fiercely critical of NAFTAduring the campaign, hes also a strong defender of USMCAand his argumentsought tosway a large majority of congressionalmembers.

So thats the political mathin the House of Representatives: a minority of the Democratic majority and a majority of the Republican minority combine to do whats right for the country.

Could it be that even in our era of bitter divides, bipartisanship canprevail? Lets hope so, as we march forward into the New Year.