Conference Report on H.R. 644, Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015by Senator Nancy Pelosi
Posted on 2015-12-11
PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding and for
his leadership on behalf of America's working families. I thank the
chairman of the committee for his courtesy in enabling me to speak at
Mr. Speaker, Congress has a responsibility to stand with American manufacturing and to help create good-paying jobs for the hardworking families who are the backbone of our country. The middle class is the backbone of our democracy. In order to have fair trade, we must have robust tools to enforce the obligations of our trading partners.
This legislation began as a strong, bipartisan trade enforcement bill. It has degenerated into a vehicle for all of the toxic, special interest promises that have been made to secure passage of the TPA. They have poisoned a strong trade enforcement bill with their denial of the climate crisis, with their turning a blind eye on human trafficking, and with their refusal to address the foreign currency manipulation that destroys millions of American jobs.
In terms of the climate crisis, congressional Republicans refuse to acknowledge the truth of the climate crisis. Pope Francis, on his visit here and even before he came and since, has made this climate crisis a priority. It was the subject of his encyclical. He has said that he is praying for the success of the historic Paris Climate Summit.
Faith leaders from the evangelical community and across the board are urging us to answer our moral responsibility to preserve God's creation. It is our responsibility. As God's creation, we have a responsibility to be good stewards of it and to do so in a way that does not hurt the poor and their presentations.
Just look at what is happening in Paris as opposed to what is happening here. In Paris, 195 nations have convened to address the climate crisis that threatens the health of our communities and the future that we leave our children. It is about air pollution. 186 nations have submitted plans to address the climate crisis and the air pollution. 146 world leaders personally attended the conference.
Yet, with this Customs bill, Republicans would bar our trade negotiators from even discussing climate in the context of a trade agreement. You cannot separate climate and commerce. We cannot accept Republicans' willful blindness to this connection and to the reality of the climate crisis.
Our trade negotiations must honor our values as a Nation. America must stand as a bulwark against the atrocity of human trafficking wherever it is found.
In the week that we mark the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States or anyplace subject to our jurisdiction, this legislation allows countries with documented forced labor practices and brutal human trafficking to enjoy the benefits of free trade and full access to our markets.
In the Trade Promotion Authority legislation, we prohibited fast- track [[Page H9292]] procedures for trade agreements with countries ranked tier 3 in the State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report, which are nations with the worst human rights records. That is in the TPA. Yet, in this bill, we weaken that standard, say, for example, for Malaysia and for other nations failing to address human trafficking.
In terms of currency, Republicans continue to allow foreign currency manipulation to devastate the competitiveness of goods made in America, stealing jobs from American workers. The American Policy Institute estimates that foreign currency manipulation has already cost millions of American jobs and threatens hundreds of thousands more in the coming years.
We need strong, enforceable currency standards in our Customs laws. Yet, Republicans have stripped out this tough, bipartisan provision, cracking down on currency manipulation in the Senate bill. It is time to crack down on countries who have manipulated their currencies for years to protect their industries and undercut American jobs. In any trade legislation, our top responsibility must be to strengthen the paychecks of America's workers.
Since I have lost my voice, let us reject this deeply flawed bill.