UNITED STATES-OMAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT
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Mr. PASCRELL. Mr. Speaker, we need to get one thing straight here before I start, and that is that those of us who oppose this trade agreement are not against trade, are not against exchange. How dare anybody stand on this floor and refer to the 9/11 Commission's report. Chapter 12. I have read the 9/11 Commission's report, by the way. I think that is a good start.
The 9/11 Commission report, chapter 12, talks about global strategy. If you read the entire chapter and you want to talk about strategy, trade must be part of when we are communicating with other countries. There is no question about it.
For those of us who believe that we need to support this trade deal, this unfair trade deal, and it is going to help workers in Oman, as well as the workers in the United States of America, I don't know what you need to refer to. Because the State Department, our own State Department, says that foreign workers at times were placed in a situation amounting to forced labor in Oman. This deal isn't for workers. This deal is for the few, like most of the trade agreements that we have given into.
We have surrendered our ability, as a branch of the government of this country, under Article I, section 8, that the Congress be in charge of commerce. We have surrendered our ability to be trade negotiators to the executive branch of government.
I have high hopes for Oman and its people. We need more moderate and forward-thinking nations like Oman in the Middle East. We need to look at how much foreign aid we provide to Oman, and even Lebanon, we, who want to help the Lebanese stop Hezbollah, and then we give them $43 million.
I am not against free trade. I am against these free trade agreements which do not benefit the American worker. I am not a protectionist, but I think we should protect the American worker. This agreement may be to the liking of a few wealthy CEOs here in America, it may be to the liking of the Sultan of Oman, but it does not represent the interests of workers in this country. It is time for a new direction in free trades. We need free trade which is modeled around human beings and not around big business interests, because human beings are the ones who drive our economy. They are the ones who will build our partnership with other nations.
We need free trade agreements that enforce the principle of workers' rights. That is right. That is what this debate is all about: will we defend the rights of workers of Oman, or will we take a step back in the right of all workers to organize freely. This country doesn't recognize the right of workers to organize. We need to defeat this trade agreement.
The proponents of the Oman Free Trade Agreement would have you believe that my colleagues and I who oppose this agreement do so because we are against free trade or maybe because we are against the nation of Oman. Both claims could not be further from the truth.
The fact is that I have high hopes for Oman and its people. We need more moderate and forward-thinking nations like Oman in the Middle East.
In fact we gave Oman only $16.5 million in foreign appropriations, which I think would be a more effective vehicle to build a strong partnership rather than through this flawed free trade agreement.
An example of this is the sad fact that we gave Lebanon only $43.2 million in foreign appropriations, of which only a scant $7.7 million went to military and counterterrorism efforts. Perhaps if we had invested more into Lebanon we could have avoided the deadly situation we are currently witnessing.
Similarly, I am not against free trade, what I am against are these free trade agreements which benefit a few to the detriment of workers. This agreement may be to the liking of a few wealthy CEO's here in America and it may be to the liking of the Sultan of Oman, but it does not represent the interests of the workers here in the United States or in Oman.
My colleagues and I are tired of seeing the same flawed free trade model, time and time again. It is time for a new direction in free trade agreements.
We need free trade agreements that are modeled around human beings and not around big business interests. Because human beings are the ones who drive our economy, they are the ones who will build our partnership with other nations.
We need free trade agreements that enforce the principle of workers rights and the right of all workers to organize freely. Instead of just paying lip service to the problem as this agreement does.
We need free trade agreements that respect our sovereignty and our right to have full control over our critical security infrastructure. Instead this agreement takes us back to the problem we had with the Dubai Ports deal and that is simply unacceptable.
We need free trade agreements that respect environmental concerns, the rights of women and the rights of minorities. ..... I could go on longer, but I think you get my point.
My colleagues and I would be standing here championing this agreement if it met the standards it should, but sadly it does not.
It is time that we have real free trade agreements; it is time that we stand up for the workers here in America and workers throughout the world. I implore you to stand up for them today!
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