Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the senior Democrat of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, issued the following statement today after the House of Representatives voted to approve trade agreements with Colombia, Korea and Panama. Miller voted against all three bills.
"Trade is a very important part of the American economy. Small businesses in my district and across the country, for example, are eager for new opportunities to sell their products and services overseas, help their businesses grow, and create more jobs here at home. However, when trade provides a cover for exporting American jobs and undermining our nation's democratic values and the rights of working people in other countries, it likewise undermines the American economy and our opportunity to create more jobs here at home.
"On balance, the three trade pacts approved by the House today fail to live up to Congress' responsibility to promote American jobs and American values. Workers in Colombia, including ones I have met with in recent months, face death threats and risk murder because they want to better their conditions by belonging to a union. Implementation of the "Labor Action Plan' has been ineffective and lacking in follow through. The bill approved today has no enforcement mechanism to assure compliance in the future.
"And, while I applauded efforts of President Obama to make the Korea agreement better, I still have a number of concerns regarding the underlying treaty, including weak country of origin provisions that allow more products from China and other low-wage countries to be imported into the U.S. through the backdoor.
"Finally, Panama is among the top 25 countries in the world violating the International Labor Organization's core conventions, specifically freedom of association.
"While I cannot support these three trade agreements, it is my hope that in the future we can advance a new trade model that will allow the U.S. to fully engage our trading partners on terms that both promote and protect American jobs."