For immediate release
July 28, 2005
Contact: Scott Kuschmider
Kildee Votes Against CAFTA
WASHINGTON - Congressman Dale E. Kildee (D-MI) voted against implementation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), which was narrowly approved by the House of Representatives, 217-215, after an hour-long roll call vote concluding in the early hours of Thursday, July 28. The agreement passed after Republican House leaders held open the roll call past midnight while they cut political deals with members reluctant to support the agreement at a time when America's trade deficit has never been larger. Kildee spent the entire debate on the House floor personally speaking to undecided members about the economic consequences of yet another unfair trade agreement that abandons American workers.
"The House of Representatives, the people's house, is not well served when twisted arms and political side deals are necessary to force through a trade agreement that the public does not support," Kildee said. "CAFTA is the latest in a series of flawed trade deals that will continue NAFTA's tradition of making American jobs our leading export. The Administration and the leadership in Congress have once again made it clear in telling America that protecting jobs and providing a better quality of life for workers inside the United States is of no interest to them."
Kildee cited the devastating impact CAFTA will have on Michigan's sugar industry, including sugar growers and farmers in Michigan's 5th District. "CAFTA contains provisions which will allow Central American countries to flood U.S. sugar markets with unneeded subsidized sugar priced below the cost of production," said Kildee. "That translates into job loss here at home." Last Congress, Kildee was successful in leading an effort to remove sugar from the Australian Free Trade Agreement. However, these provisions in CAFTA likely mean that sugar will be on the bargaining table for future trade agreements, specifically a potential deal with Thailand, the world's second largest sugar exporter.
For years, the American people have been promised that bilateral and regional trade agreements would throw open the doors of international markets eager for American goods. However, in the ten years following NAFTA, which Congressman Kildee opposed, a million American jobs have been lost. Unfair trade agreements have had a devastating impact on the U.S. economy and they have been a leading factor in the rise of unemployment. Eliminating tariffs and allowing companies to exploit foreign labor has destroyed entire American industries and has placed America at a huge economic disadvantage.
"CAFTA could not stand on its merits," concluded Kildee. "It was created and sold as an economic stimulus package for America. When a clear majority of the Congress and the American public weren't buying it, it was repackaged to wavering House members as a means of promoting stability in the Central American region. Sadly, if NAFTA is any indication, CAFTA will do none of those things. It will not alleviate poverty in those countries, it will not improve their labor standards, it will not improve their environmental standards, and most of all, it will not stop the loss of jobs here at home."