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Barbara L.
Democrat CA 13

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  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership

    by Representative Barbara Lee

    Posted on 2015-01-08

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    LEE. Thank you very much.

    Let me thank you, Congressman Pocan, for yielding but also for your tireless leadership on behalf of the American people and for leading not only this Progressive Caucus special hour but each and every one of them for so many years. You have been our voice. I think the American people are hearing from us through you, so I just want to thank you again for really beating the drum across America, allowing the American people to know what the real deal is here in Washington, D.C.

    Let me also thank all of my colleagues in the Congressional Progressive Caucus for rising tonight to talk about why we are strongly opposed to Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    Mr. Speaker, when it comes to trade deals and American jobs, Congress should never be a rubber stamp. As the Representative from California's 13th Congressional District, I have the honor and the privilege of representing the Port of Oakland--one of our Nation's busiest seaports--and also the airport. I support trade because it is critical to the economy of my district and our Nation. Trade is good when it is fair, when it is open, when it is transparent, and when it creates good-paying jobs here in America. Trade is bad, however, when it ships American jobs overseas so that the 1 percent can reap even greater profits. For this reason, I join the vast majority of Americans-- Americans from both parties--in opposing Fast Track for the TPP. Bad trade hurts all American workers--American families, American businesses, and also, especially, those individuals and businesses in communities of color.

    Of the 2.7 million jobs lost because of the U.S.-China trade deal, a disproportionately high percentage--35 percent, mind you--came from communities of color. That is outrageous. Now, after these individuals lost their jobs, their situations got even worse. When they found a new job, it was, on average, for a 30 percent lower wage. The loss of these jobs and wages totals more than $10 billion in lost economic growth for these communities, not one time, but each and every year. Enacting another bad trade deal will continue to prevent communities of color from building wealth and moving into the middle class. In addition to the negative impact on communities of color, Fast Track for TPP will not provide an opportunity to add critical labor and environmental protections that are critical to respecting human rights and preserving our planet.

    That is why my colleagues and I are here, saying ``no'' to Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trade negotiations should not be conducted in back rooms. The American people and Members of Congress deserve to know what is in these deals. That is why, again, Congress is so important. Otherwise, people have no say. They have no voice on trade policies that really affect their economic livelihoods--their ability to put food on the table and their ability to aspire into the middle class. Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership does not help the American people. It only allows special interests and corporations to craft trade deals that are bad for the American people.

    Mr. Speaker, it is time to turn the lights on the TPP. If the United States is going to pursue a trade deal in the Pacific, Congress needs to fully debate it so we are certain that it creates jobs and all the protections that we all are standing for and know about and want right here in America.

    Over the last 20 years, the U.S. has lost nearly 3.5 million jobs due to NAFTA and the United States-China trade deal. Many of these jobs were lost in California and in communities of color. Let's not make the same mistake again. Let's stand together in opposing Fast Track because it will sacrifice American jobs and environmental protections in the name of international corporate profits. Let's take Fast Track off of the table, and let's start talking about creating good-paying American jobs for American families.

    Thank you, once again, for your tremendous leadership.

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