Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly announced that he will vote against the free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama when they come up for a vote in the House of Representatives. President Obama sent these three agreements to Congress late yesterday.
"I disagree with the president's decision to move forward with these trade agreements at a time when too many Americans are still out of work," said Donnelly. "We need fair trade, not more so-called "free trade' agreements that ship American jobs overseas. Too many companies in Indiana have already had to shutter their operations because of unfair trade agreements negotiated in the past. These agreements come to Congress under fast track authority, which means we cannot amend any of the agreements to make them better for American workers.
"Hoosier businesses and workers deserve a level playing field. One way to do this is by passing legislation that would require the fair valuation of China's currency. The Senate is voting today on a bill that would curb the Chinese government's currency manipulation, which is currently putting American businesses at a disadvantage. Passage of this legislation in both houses of Congress would be the right kind of progress on trade, resulting in significant job creation."
Fast track negotiating authority was first enacted in 1975 and expired in 1994. Under fast track, the president can negotiate trade agreements and present them to Congress for an up or down vote. Congress cannot amend or filibuster these trade agreements. In July of 2002, Congress narrowly approved reinstating fast track authority to the executive branch. All three agreements were first negotiated before the expiration of this authority on July 1, 2007.
The House is expected to vote on the free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama next week.