UNITED STATES-PERU TRADE PROMOTION AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - November 08, 2007)
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Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania. Madam Speaker, I rise in opposition to the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement.
I oppose this bill because I come from a part of our country that has seen all the drawbacks of free trade without any of the supposed benefits. I oppose this bill on behalf of the countless Americans who spent years of their lives working in a steel mill or manufacturing plant whose lives were uprooted in the wake of NAFTA and CAFTA.
I represent the 8th District of Pennsylvania. My State has been one of the hardest hit by free trade agreements and the unfair trade practices of nations, such as China, that don't play by the rules. Bucks County was hit hard. Manufacturing jobs used to number in the tens of thousands, but by 2005, they had fallen nearly 35 percent. This devastation included major employers like US Steel, Jones Apparel, and Rohm and Haas--companies that now employ a fraction of what they once did. Each one of those lost jobs represents a worker and his or her family whose lives were turned upside down by so called ``free trade.'' Madam Speaker, free trade is not free if it costs American workers their jobs.
I believe that when everyone plays by the rules, American workers will beat out foreign competition every time. Unfortunately, not every nation plays by the rules and even worse, the Bush administration has done nothing to protect American workers from unfair competition. In fact, the President has gone out of his way to sign free trade agreements, like CAFTA, that harm American working men and women.
Madam Speaker, it is for that reason that I must oppose this bill. While this agreement paid heed to labor, health and environmental concerns for the first time in years, we need to back up words with action. Supporters of this bill are saying all of the right things and I am glad that these concerns were taken into account. However, when the livelihoods of American families are at stake, words simply aren't good enough. We need concrete action and this bill offers us no guarantees.
We are debating this bill under ``fast-track'' rules. That means that the Congress gets no say in the details of the agreement and that we simply must trust that the President is going to do right by American workers. This President has broken his word over and over again throughout his time in office and we cannot trust him again. We have seen the Bush administration repeatedly putting the interests of the few ahead of the needs of the many.
For example, if we had the ability to amend this trade agreement, I would fight to include the provisions of a bill I have introduced that would require national security reviews of trade deals before we agree to them. My bill, The Trade-Related American National Security Enhancement and Accountability, TRANSEA, Act also would allow for the suspension of existing trade agreements if the safety, health, and welfare of Americans are in doubt. I think these provisions would have made a vast improvement to the Peru Free Trade Agreement, but unfortunately because of fast track rules, we are prohibited from even trying to offer changes to make the bill better for American workers.
Madam Speaker, I am not an anti-trade crusader. Certainly, if trade is done the right way, with attention paid to labor, environmental and health standards, then it can benefit everybody from workers to business owners, both in the United States and other parts of the world. Unfortunately, with President Bush's disastrous record, we cannot trust him, to enforce the agreement in a way that will be fair to American working men and women. It is for these reasons, Madam Speaker, that I oppose this trade agreement.
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