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House Members Take Stand Against TPP


A group of House Democrats issued a full-on assault yesterday against efforts to approve a 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal. And rightfully so. Because whether one is talking about American jobs, labor conditions, human rights, food safety, health care or the environment, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a big loser for workers across the globe.

Noting a litany of letters signed by a bipartisan collection of lawmakers that raise concerns not only about what the TPP could mean for America and the world, but also the process being undertaken to push it through Congress, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and others gathered on Capitol Hill said it is time to halt efforts to approve a trade deal that will hurt hard-working Americans by using secrecy to approve the shady agreement.

“The sad fact of the matter is that this pact will roll back regulation, it would roll back environmental standards and the laws that protect the safety of the drugs we take, the food we eat and the toys we give to our children,” she said. “And it would create binding policies in many areas so Congress and state legislatures would be thwarted from mitigating the pact’s damage in the future.”

She and others argued that TPP “is a non-starter” with the American public, noting that several public polls taken on the topic have shown it is unpopular. They noted many are unhappy with how it has been negotiated in the shadows and that even though members of Congress can read the text, they do not have unfettered access to the trade documents like hundreds of corporate executives do.

Without that, those on Capitol Hill can’t be sure what is in the agreement and thus neither can the public be either. Instead elected officials and interested parties are relying on years-old leaks. And what they find is not something many are willing to support.

“The reality is that the TPP is light-years away from being a good deal for working families here in America and for other TPP countries,” Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) stated. “The TPP must protect American workers and families and ensure workers in other trade pact countries that they are not subject to violations of basic rights.”

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.), co-chair of the House Vietnamese Caucus, said any promises to improve labor conditions in the Southeast Asian country shouldn’t be believed. She noted workers there have no rights at all and in some cases forced and child labor is being used.

Meanwhile, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) noted it makes no sense for the U.S. to ditch its “Buy American” federal procurement program that favors American businesses over those from overseas, especially when the U.S. market is more than 10 times that of the other TPP nations put together. That would jeopardize thousands of American jobs.

The Teamsters and other groups have aired similar concerns. There is a reason that more than 200 lawmakers in Congress have warned about TPP and fast-track trade authority that could help implement the trade agreement. It’s bad policy. It’s bad for workers. It’s bad for America.

Congress cannot allow this corporate boondoggle to survive. The issue is not expected to rear its head until after the November elections. It is imperative lawmakers not just recite rhetoric now, but put people first when it matters most by rejecting this anti-worker trade pact.