A picture of Representative Rosa L. DeLauro
Rosa D.
Democrat CT 3

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  • Conference Report on H.R. 644, Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015

    by Representative Rosa L. DeLauro

    Posted on 2015-12-11

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    DeLAURO. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, or the Customs bill. This legislation has historically been a bipartisan bill, but the majority has politicized the Customs legislation by adding several riders that would be harmful to our trade policy.

    The bill undermines our ability to address several of the most critical global issues that we face: climate change, human trafficking, and immigration. And it includes no meaningful method for dealing with one of the biggest causes of job loss and wage suppression in the United States: currency manipulation, which has cost our Nation over 5 million jobs.

    Ironically, world leaders are concluding negotiations today in Paris at the largest climate summit in history. They are working hard to hash out an agreement that, as the Sierra Club has pointed out, will be undermined by the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. With the bill before us today, the United States will not be allowed to address greenhouse gas emissions in future trade negotiations. Imagine.

    The bill also contains no funding to support the enforcement and monitoring of our trade agreements, and it lacks any automatic mechanism for ensuring compliance with our trade rules. This administration has never self-initiated a trade complaint against any of our free trade partners. It takes years for the administration to bring a case against countries that subsidize or dump their product in our markets.

    Lack of enforcement of our trade agreements has plagued our country for decades. Despite environmental rules in the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement, the overwhelming majority of timber from Peru is illegally logged. Despite the labor rules in the Colombia free trade agreement, over 100 Colombian trade unionists have been murdered, 19 this year alone.

    This bill does not adequately address enforcement. It lacks the mechanisms for ensuring compliance with trade rules. As I said, no administration has ever self-initiated a labor or environmental trade complaint against any of our free trade partners. Why would we think that this would begin now? While this bill authorizes funding for enforcement, there is no guarantee that this funding will ever be provided. We already lack the critical funding to enforce our existing trade agreements. American workers cannot afford to suffer through additional losses as their jobs are shipped to countries that do not play by the rules.

    Worst of all, one day after International Human Rights Day, which was yesterday, this legislation contains a provision that will weaken U.S. efforts to curb human trafficking forced labor. The bill would allow for expedited consideration of a trade agreement with nations classified as the worst offenders of human trafficking.

    We have already seen the administration's willingness to do whatever it takes to secure a trade deal when it upgraded the human trafficking ranking of Malaysia to conclude the TPP negotiations. Malaysia was in the same category as Iran just 5 months ago. Where are our values with regard to human life? The biggest problem with our economy today is that too many Americans are in jobs that do not pay them enough to live on. They are struggling. One of the main reasons for this is several decades of bad trade policy that has shipped millions of jobs overseas, like the policies in this Customs bill and the TPP.

    {time} 1130 People in this body like to say that all of the job losses and the wage depression are because of technology and globalization. It is. It is because of the policy choices we have made over the years. It is time for us to rewrite the rules.

    The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

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