RELATING TO THE CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 5724, UNITED STATES-COLOMBIA TRADE PROMOTION AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - April 10, 2008)
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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join you today in standing up for working families in America by opposing the flawed fast track procedures.
When the President sent the Colombia Trade Agreement to Congress earlier this week, he started a clock for the agreement's consideration. He hoped that by forcing Congress to act, he would be able to win approval of the Colombia FTA. Yet, in reality, he only exposed one of the many problems that fast track trade negotiation authority created.
Today, Congress is sending a clear message to the President that we will not consider the Colombia Free Trade Agreement or any other FTA's on his time table. We will not be bullied. Congress is a coequal branch of government.
As you may know, I have long opposed the granting of fast track authority to the President because it removed Congress from shaping and drafting trade agreements, the timing of their consideration, and allowed Congress only an up or down vote on unamendable trade agreements. In doing so Congress abdicated our essential responsibility to our nation's citizens. I was pleased that this dangerous fast track authority expired last summer and has not been renewed.
As I hear from people from across central New Jersey, protecting workers' rights, human rights, and the environment are not secondary or extraneous concerns; they are central to what the United States stands for. I support trade that elevates the quality of life for citizens all over the world. The United States, and indeed the entire world, can benefit from increased trade, but increased trade in itself is not the goal we seek. Rather, we seek an improved quality of life for our people and advancement of other people's well-being.
Additionally, even on the merits I am very concerned by the Colombian agreement. As I have said before, trade done right helps lift the global standard of living and works to protect our natural environment. Trade agreements are not just about goods and commodities, they are about values. Trade agreements state what constitutes acceptable behavior in worker's rights, environmental matters, intellectual property, and so forth. We should make sure we export the goods we produce and not the workers who produce them. We must continue to demand improvements in our trade policy.
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