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Location: Washington, DC

CAFTA -- (House of Representatives - July 11, 2005)


Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, the Congress must defeat unfair trade agreements until we start forming trade policy rationally and in our best interest. I am not afraid to say that I opposed both the trade policies of the former President, a member of my own party, President Clinton; and I oppose this President's trade policies, President Bush, and I do so not through perceptions but through facts. What has happened to these trade policies as was promised when they were passed and signed?

The folks in my district did not send me to Washington to surrender my rights under the Constitution. article I, section 8 is very clear. It is the Congress that will declare war; it is the Congress that will deal with matters of commerce. We have surrendered that. This legislative body has surrendered that right to both Clinton and Bush. We say, we voted that way, I did not, the majority voted, that the President of the United States is solely responsible for the so-called free trade deals and that the Congress can either vote them up or down.

Now this is what we have done. In diminishing the power of the legislative body, we have inflated the power under the Constitution, and this is not what our forefathers intended. If Members read what went into article I, section 8, it is very, very clear, very succinct.

In New Jersey, we have lost in the last 14 years 241,000 manufacturing jobs. We have been told not only in New Jersey but in the New Jerseys across this greatest of all Nations, that those jobs will be replaced by service jobs, and we have seen what has happened. We have seen these jobs replaced by part-time jobs, filled with underemployed people, many times working with none of the benefits reflected in what was decent manufacturing, decent-paying jobs.

So when one looks at the facts, the trade deals have not been fair, and they certainly have not been free. We want to help other countries grow, but not at the detriment and expense of the American worker. We are not opposed to trade. The gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Brown) is not opposed to trade. The Members of the other side of the aisle, the Republicans who oppose CAFTA like I oppose it and like many of us who oppose it on our side, are not against trade. Trade is a necessity. We live in a global village, but we want that trade to be fair. We want that trade to be a two-way street and not a one-way street.

I give just two basic examples: the only trade deal that I voted in favor of was the trade deal with the country of Jordan. I did not vote for the Australian free trade agreement. Many of us opposed it. The Australian free trade agreement provided for countries enforcing their own labor laws. There is a history here. If you are going to enforce your own labor laws, you are not going to be able to deal in a free trade concept on the agreement you sign. It means nothing, in other words. This is unacceptable.

In section 18.2 of the deal we made with Australia, very specifically it says: "The parties recognize that each party retains the right to exercise discretion with respect to investigations, prosecutorial, regulatory, compliance matters, and to make decisions regarding the allocation of resources to enforcement."

In other words, in the Australian so-called free trade agreement we signed, the President of the United States signed, signed on the dotted line and blinked and winked at the Australians as to how that deal would be enforced. It means absolutely nothing, and it will not be enforced because of the language.

Yet in the Jordanian trade deal, very specifically article 6, The parties reaffirm their obligations as members of the International Labor Organization, the ILO, and their commitments under the ILO Declaration of Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and its follow-up. The parties shall strive to ensure that such labor principles and the internationally recognized labor rights set forth in paragraph 6 are recognized and protected by domestic law. There is the teeth. That is the basic difference between the Australian deal and the Jordanian free trade agreement. Standards. We need standards in any trade agreement not only to protect the workers in the other country, but to protect the workers in the United States of America.

We should not give up that sovereignty. We should not give up that ability to protect our own workers, and that is not what is happening. We become a Wal-Mart economy. These people are underemployed, regardless of what we hear on the plethora of TV and radio commercials. These people are underemployed with very few benefits. And the fact of the matter is that it is a rotating system. People leave in a very short period of time.

The Catholic bishops got it right. The Catholic bishops got it right on CAFTA. They said we believe that in an increasingly interdependent world, it is essential that economic globalization be made more human by globalizing solidarity among people everywhere. If this is not done, and they quoted Pope John Paul II, the poorest appear to have little hope. If globalization is ruled merely by the laws of the market, applied to suit the powerful, the consequences cannot but be negative:

"We are concerned," the bishops wrote, "about the ability of CAFTA to increase opportunities for the poorest and most vulnerable and to enhance the prospect that they will genuinely benefit from increased trade."

Mr. Speaker, I intend in the coming days to show pictorially and narratively one example of what is happening in Nicaragua. This is an absolute disgrace. These countries have not told or shared with their citizens what is in the CAFTA agreement. In fact, the bishops point this out. Folks need to be educated before any two countries sign any kind of agreement. Do not keep folks in the dark. This is the multinational corporation agreement. This is not an agreement that is going to help the folks in that country or this country.

And how many folks have come across the Rio Grande River from Mexico in just the last few years that NAFTA went into effect? The promise of NAFTA on this floor in 1993 was that it would stop the flow of illegal immigration that come across the Rio Grande into this country. We have doubled the amount of people because the companies that went to Mexico have now gone to China. We have participated in this vicious circle. I am glad the gentleman brought up that famous quote regarding the definition of insanity is doing something over and over and over again and expecting different results.

Mr. Speaker, our policies are insane. They do not help the workers of this Nation. It is sad. But listen to what the bishops have had to say. They have had a lot to say.

This is the time to stop these unfair agreements. We need a trade policy in this Nation that is fair before it is free. There are no free lunches here. We want a policy that the Members in the Congress of the United States are going to be able to vote upon and discuss and amend. I want my rights back under article I, section 8 of the Constitution. I demand them back or else we might as well go home and let us have a monarchy.

The Forefathers fought this. They argued and debated one another. They said we should have three branches of government as a checks and balance. What checks and balances do we have on the trade agreements that both President Clinton and President Bush have put before the Congress with very little debate and we have given the store away? That is a fact of life. That is the truth. I ask anybody to come to this floor to deny it.

Our current trade policy is not working, President Bush. It has not been functional for some time, I say to the past two Presidents. The Bush administration and the Clinton administration have only continued and increased its support for multinational imports over domestic industry. No wonder the containers come into this country filled, and they stay on the docks empty going nowhere. That is part of the trade deficit. Look at the empty containers. Congress must take the initiative and stop blindly approving free trade agreement after agreement.

As we hemorrhage family-wage manufacturing jobs, how dare we say on the floor of this House that these trade agreements are going to bring better paying jobs, are going to sustain benefits to those workers, are going to sustain this economy. Our trade deficits grow and grow. Finally, Mr. Greenspan, in a moment of resiliency, has spoken out on this. Finally, we have two cups of coffee maybe instead of one.

We cannot ignore that we live in a global economy. We must also use our strength to help improve the living conditions of those living in our partner nations and not just wink when we say it.

This Congress must defeat unfair trade agreements until we start forming trade policy rationally and fairly. You look at what happened to the Mexicans who came across the Rio Grande, our brothers and our sisters who came across that river. The promise that was given to them in 1993 was that you would not have to do that anymore. You will have a job. You will have a job that pays. You will have a job that gives you benefits. Your family will be able to live. How come they have come here? Because the jobs are not there.

Who made money? Not those people. The multinational corporations made the money. CAFTA as drafted is not an agreement to accomplish these goals. It needs to be renegotiated. We do not want to bury it. We want to renegotiate it so that it is fair, so that it does have teeth, so that it protects the sovereignty of the United States and every other country who wishes to participate. I intend to show pictorially, and I will keep my word, on what has happened in Nicaragua, that poorest of all poor nations; $2,200 a year they make. They are going to buy American products? Is this reality TV or is this reality?

I see my other friend from Ohio (Ms. Kaptur), and I want to yield to her so that perhaps, when she finishes, we will have a triumvirate here.


Mr. PASCRELL. Trade agreements, as I learned about them through school and reading on my own, used to be about tariff levels and quotas. That was the basis of trade agreements. But the modern trade agreement is about much more than just importing and exporting goods. I agree that foreign policy and trade go together. This is very critical. These agreements, and specifically the one we are talking about now, include entire chapters on foreign investor rights.

If I may, I want to talk about that just for a few moments, the ownership in domestic regulation of services and even how tax dollars can be spent on procurement, buying things. We have had debates on the floor of the House in the last 2 months which have centered upon the sovereignty, the independence of our country in the world. Just last month, we saw a comprehensive United Nations reform measure pass this House. In that debate, we heard about how the U.N., the International Criminal Court, and other global bodies can undermine policies set by this Congress and this Federal Government. How any of those same critics can support CAFTA is beyond me. These agreements include, as I said, whole chapters on foreign investor rights. Over the past 10 years, NAFTA, which is the model for this piece of legislation, has been a disaster for American sovereignty and has undermined the intent of our Constitution.

The much reviled NAFTA chapter 11 was designed to grant special legal protection and new rights to corporations from one NAFTA country that invests in another NAFTA country. Again, we see multinational corporations winning out over the little guy. We have surrendered our independence as a nation. Extraordinarily, NAFTA chapter 11 provided for the private enforcement of these investor rights by the investors themselves outside of the nation's domestic court system and in a closed-door trade tribunal. How can you be so concerned about what the U.N. is imposing upon the United States and not look at what CAFTA is doing to the sovereignty of this greatest of all democracies? Secret tribunals have the ability to override our Federal courts. They have the ability to exact fines from the Federal Treasury. They have the ability to make new Federal policies outside the congressional process.

In the 2002 Fast Track law, we attempted to add some assurances that trade agreements could no longer replicate this dangerous chapter 11 precedent outlined in NAFTA. We did not succeed. The language enacted in the final Fast Track bill was weak at best. The act did state that foreign investors should have no "greater substantive rights with respect to investment protections than U.S. investors in the United States." This is unbelievable. The investment provisions of CAFTA failed to satisfy even the modest congressional requirement. And I must say on this point, this CAFTA agreement provides greater rights to foreign investors and businesses than provided to the United States citizens and the United States businesses. Read it. Do not take my word for it. Go to the document.

How anybody could stand on this floor, and I know those that did, and beg us to make sure the United Nations does not undermine the sovereignty of the United States and not have the same standard in looking at the CAFTA agreement and chapter 11 in the NAFTA agreement and not say we have surrendered. The United States has surrendered under this agreement.


Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. BROWN of Ohio. I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.

Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, may I suggest to the gentlewoman from Ohio that it is not the Congress that is making the trade agreements. I have pointed that out before. We have surrendered that right, that power. I do not even think it is the President. What do my colleagues know about that? We have surrendered to many multinational corporations. They are making the trade deals at our expense.


Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. BROWN of Ohio. I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.

Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, would it not be great if we put an end to it in this Congress on both sides of the aisle? The gentleman from Ohio knows better than anybody there are a number of people, I cannot count the ones and I am not taking them for granted, I never do that, but there are a number of people on the other side who see through this fantasy and are willing to stand up for it. We know that pressure is going to be put on them. Two administrations past, pressure was put on folks right here, right here. And I supported President Clinton on most of what he ever wanted.

But on trade, I think the administration and the executive branch of government are selling our intellect short, and our responsibilities, I want those responsibilities back. I believe that Congress should be part of a negotiating team to negotiate these agreements and then bring them to the floor, we debate them, and we pass it. We need to do something to make these agreements fair. Up until now we have not.


Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, I ask either one of my colleagues what are the circumstances that allow us to vote for a bill where foreign investors and foreign firms are granted greater rights than U.S. citizens and United States firms? What is the rationale? I will listen very carefully.

I have read the document. To those who are going to vote for it and do not want to read it, they do not know what is there, please read the document. How can they vote for a surrender of sovereignty? They took the oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States. How can they surrender sovereignty of this Nation? Do my colleagues think folks understand that in this Chamber?

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?

Mr. BROWN of Ohio. I yield to the gentlewoman from Ohio.

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentleman from New Jersey for so effectively raising that issue this evening because I do not think the public fully understands who can take whom to court and how our basic legal rights are undermined through the NAFTA agreement and the CAFTA agreement. We basically abdicate that to these bodies that have no transparency. They have no regular right for an individual citizen, for example, to take a claim. We end up with big corporations taking the laws of the State of New York to court or the United States of America to court.

I mentioned the instance where a Canadian company, a company, challenged California as a State their right to ban MTBE from their gasoline because it was polluting their water, of which they have a limited amount.

Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will continue to yield, there is no question in my mind that we are surrendering the sovereignty of this Nation if we vote "yes" on this legislation. There is a legitimate debate in this Nation about what public interest functions are inherently governmental. Governments choose at what times and with what vendors they wish to procure goods and services. The procurement issue is a very central point in the CAFTA debate. The votes are there to outsource some tasks and not there for others. They are there to purchase locally made products in some cases, import services in other cases. On a State and local level, these same debates are considered every day as the Constitution properly allows them to be considered. Democracy lives.

But under CAFTA, under CAFTA, whether a state privatizes its auto inspection program, whether we give preferences for a local construction firm, whether a city privatizes its water system, Nicaragua, is not necessarily a local decision. It is potentially an international case. How can we accept these conditions?

Globalization is here. We do not and cannot deny that fact. But that does not mean we must give up the values we hold dear to us. That does not mean that we must take what we are given by this administration. Congress has rights too. I thank my friend from Ohio, my two friends from Ohio. Why is it that folks from Ohio are always there to protect the American worker? And I thank each of them for all they have done through all of these years.

We are not going to take one step backwards on this deal. We are going to say this is the end of it.


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