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Rosa D.
Democrat CT 3

About Rep. Rosa
  • The Trans-Pacific Partnership

    by Representative Rosa L. DeLauro

    Posted on 2015-01-08

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    DeLAURO. Thank you so much to the gentleman from Wisconsin. Again, it is reciprocal. It is just such an honor to serve with you. We are simpatico in the views that we hold with regard to this and so many others. I am honored to be able to serve with you and to be tied together on this critically important issue.

    Earlier today, my colleagues who are on the floor here tonight and others who have spoken, we were all at a press conference. And I think we can say with one voice that it was one of the broadest advocacy coalitions that we have seen come together. It certainly is true for me in my 24 years in the House. The advocacy groups and Members of Congress came together to oppose Fast Track. It included faith groups, human rights groups, labor unions, environmental groups, and consumer protection groups. And the purpose, as I said, was to oppose the policy known as Fast Track for trade deals.

    Under this Fast Track umbrella, if you will, what happens? Members of Congress are denied the opportunity to debate and vote in detail on the text of these deals. We cannot have a serious debate, nor can we amend the process.

    Negotiations are going on right now between the United States and 11 other countries. If these negotiations are successful, it will create the largest trade deal in history, something called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Yet the details of this trade agreement remain a secret from the American people, from the Representatives of the American people in this body. The contours of the deal are being sketched out in secret, as I have said, by a Who's Who of Wall Street firms, big pharmaceutical companies, energy companies, and other corporate interests.

    They want to ram the agreement through the Congress, again, without amendment and with little opportunity for debate. To me, that is the very opposite of what we have been sent here to do.

    I have always opposed Fast Track, no matter who was in the Oval Office. I will oppose it again. We cannot, and we must not, really just sign away our constitutional duties. We need to retain the ability to scrutinize trade deals page by page, line by line, word by word. We should do that for all legislation, let alone legislation with such far-reaching implications for American workers.

    Some of us remember the debate on this floor or going back home during the debate on health care when our constituents and our colleagues on the other side of the aisle would say to us, have you read the bill? Have you read the bill? How can you vote on a bill that you have not read? The TPP is 1,000 pages, 1,000 pages. We want to read the bill. That is what we are asking for.

    Make no mistake: bad trade deals can have grave consequences for our people.

    And it used to be that the working-class families became middle class by finding work that paid enough to save a little, buy a home in a safe neighborhood, send their kids to college, and leave the next generation better off. But today, the good jobs that used to lift people into the middle class have been shipped overseas to places where labor is cheap. Many of them have gone to countries that get ahead by abusing labor rights, polluting the environment, risking public health, or manipulating their currency.

    A recent GAO report tells us of unpunished violence against trade unionists in Colombia, of union suppression in Guatemala, of abuses against foreign workers in Oman. These are all countries that we have trade deals with, agreements under which they promised--they promised-- to improve their records. We haven't held them accountable on these promises.

    I am not against free trade. I am in favor of fair trade on a level playing field. Hardworking Americans will win 9 times out of 10, but the competition must be fair.

    A recent Gallup Poll showed that in 2014, the issues Americans most often identified as the biggest problem facing our country was ``poor government leadership.'' Today, 80 percent of Americans disapprove of the job that this institution is doing. Why? Because far too often, we are seen as working not for all Americans but for a privileged few: tax breaks for millionaires, benefit cuts for the poorest; unprecedented paydays for those at the top, dwindling paychecks for everyone else. The big economic problem today is that jobs that people have do not pay enough to them so that they can live on it. Fast Tracking this trade agreement will exacerbate that problem.

    NAFTA-style trade deals are in the same category. For a narrow band of wealthy individuals and big corporations with the means to invest their money beyond our the borders, they do wonders. For the rest of us, they spell disaster. They send our jobs overseas. They erode our ability to protect our workers, consumers, and the environment. Worst of all, they threaten to saw the legs off the ladder of opportunity that leads to the middle class.

    Fast Tracking these deals would be yet another insult to American workers, yet another sign of how little their political leaders really care about them.

    {time} 1715 Instead of our abdicating our constitutional responsibility, let's send a clear message: enough is enough. No more offshoring. No more NAFTA-style trade deals, no more Fast Track. Let us focus on helping American workers, not throwing their jobs away.

    I thank the gentleman from Wisconsin for all of his efforts, and it is a privilege to work with you on this issue.

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