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Public Statements

African Growth and Opportunity Amendment Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington DC

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Mr. ISAKSON. Mr. President, I rise for just a moment to do two things. First of all, I spent 33 years selling houses. I have dealt with honest brokers, and I have dealt with brokers who were hard to deal with and whom I would never categorize as honest. Senator Coburn from Oklahoma is the most honest broker I have ever dealt with in politics or in selling houses. I wish to acknowledge for just a second exactly what he said about the process, his support for the AGOA provisions but his concern about the pay-for, but the fact that he never tried to scuttle this piece of legislation, he only tried to get his day in court. I respect that, and I want him to know that. If we all acted a little bit more like that, we would have a lot more debate on the floor and a lot fewer problems in terms of running our country.

As far as AGOA, I want to say this. As the chairman and ranking member, as Senator Coons and I are, of the African Affairs Subcommittee, we travel to that continent quite a bit. One of my trips was to the Sudan, to Darfur, and to the South Sudan, when the comprehensive peace agreement was being negotiated. As this body knows, the South Sudan had their revolution peacefully. South Sudan became the newest country on the face of this Earth, and South Sudan will become, if AGOA passes today, one of the parties to this agreement, which is critical to the developing economy of the South Sudan as an independent nation. Further, the other nations that are included are nations that depend on this legislation to raise a middle class in Africa that will become the customers of the United States of America and our businesses.

I say often in my speeches about Africa that if it is true that Europe was the continent of the 20th century in the first 50 years and if it is true that Asia was the most important continent in the last 50 years of the 20th century, Africa is the continent of the 21st century. This is an agreement that is important to our relationship with Africa, it is important to our economy, it is important to American textiles, and it is important to jobs in Africa.

I commend Senator Coons for his hard work, and I intend to support the AGOA bill and ask all of my fellow colleagues to do the same.

I yield back.

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