The Trans-Pacific Partnershipby Representative Donna F. Edwards
Posted on 2015-01-08
EDWARDS. I want to thank Mr. Pocan for yielding and for his
leadership for calling us together this evening to talk about what
trade means to American paychecks.
Thank you again because I was sitting in my office, and I was listening to my colleagues speak so eloquently about the need for Congress, for individual Members of Congress representing--those of us representing 725,000 Americans, to have a voice in a process that is so important to American paychecks.
As I sat there, I thought I owed it to my constituents in the Fourth Congressional District of Maryland to come to this floor to stand on their side for their paychecks, so I thank you for that.
As I listened to some of my colleagues, one of the things that I heard Ms. Kaptur say was to talk about the job loss in the manufacturing sector, in the clothing textile sector in the Carolinas. I represent a district in Maryland, but my family is from North Carolina.
A lot of my family members had those good-paying jobs in the mills. They were making the sheets, pillowcases, T-shirts, and hats, and they all lost their jobs. All of those jobs went someplace else, but they didn't stay in North Carolina. That was a tragedy. It [[Page H147]] was a tragedy for my family, as it has been a tragedy for families all across this country.
I remember the NAFTA debate, and so many Members of Congress--I wasn't in Congress at the time, Mr. Pocan wasn't in Congress at the time--but we remember the debate. We remember that they told us: ``Well, there would be other jobs that would be created, so don't worry about any jobs that would be lost.'' They said the jobs in the service sector would grow and they would stay.
Almost one of the first things to happen after NAFTA went into effect was all those call centers closed. Those were service-sector jobs, and they left, along with millions of manufacturing jobs.
In my home State of Maryland, we lost 70,000 jobs--and we are a small State--but we lost those just to NAFTA, so when people tell me now as a Member of Congress: ``We want you to just Fast Track this trade deal, this Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, and just trust us that the process is going to work, just trust us that all you have to do is rubberstamp the trade deal''--I remember--and Mr. Pocan, you remember--and that is what requires us for our constituents to say no way, that we cannot just give Fast Track authority over, hand it over and, in effect, just say that whatever the deal is that has been negotiated, we will just take that deal for the American people.
Well, you and I know better. One of the things that has long concerned me is getting wind that our Trade Representative, on behalf of my constituents and your constituents, were negotiating away Buy American provisions, negotiating them away without our even having a voice in that conversation.
Let's look at those Buy American provisions. In 2012, 68 of our colleagues joined us in saying to President Obama, ``Don't negotiate away the Buy American provision.'' Then just last year, 120 Members of Congress said, ``Mr. President, don't negotiate away the Buy American provisions.'' So I see that the wind is really beneath our sails because the American people understand that when you negotiate away Buy American, what you do is negotiate away the buying power and the jobs of American workers. You trade what is, in effect, billions of dollars of American taxpayer buying power for very little buying power coming from the other direction.
I am troubled that we have a Trade Representative that just wants to say, ``Take the deal and run,'' and those of us who stand in the steps of American workers, we are in their place. We are representing them. We have their voice. We need to have their voice, and we have to have their back and say ``no'' to Fast Track and say ``no'' to the TPP and ``no'' to provisions that would trade away what we know the statistics are.
The U.S. procurement market is more than 10 times larger than all the TPP procurement markets combined, and so that means that we would trade away preferential access for U.S. firms to $556 billion in Federal Government procurement. For what? $53 billion in return? We have to say ``no'' to this deal.
I want to thank Mr. Pocan for bringing us together. It is good that we are doing this from day one in the United States House of Representatives because what we are saying to American workers is: ``Not only will we stand with you on the first day of the Congress and the next day of the Congress, but all the way to the end, to keep from trading away millions of your jobs.'' Mr. POCAN. Thank you again so much, Representative Edwards. When you talked about the job loss in Maryland, we lost nearly 75,000 manufacturing job through the NAFTA-WTO period in the last 20 years.