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Trade and Labor

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Location: Washington, DC

TRADE AND LABOR -- (House of Representatives - May 21, 2007)

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Mr. HARE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days to revise and extend their remarks.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Illinois?

There was no objection.

Mr. HARE. Mr. Speaker, we are going to be doing several 1-hour Special Orders, and we have done them since January. I can't think of an issue that is more important and more pressing to us in this Chamber than trade and the saving of our jobs back in our districts.

We are going to be hearing tonight from a number of my colleagues on the Congressional Labor and Working Families Caucus, the House Trade Working Group, and Members of our side of the aisle that believe it is time that working people have somebody stand up and be their voices when their voices aren't heard.

So, Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to recognize a fellow Illinoisan from the Illinois delegation, a good friend of mine, someone who has took taken it upon himself to stand up for working people. So at this time I would like to yield to my colleague, Representative Dan Lipinski.

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Mr. HARE. I thank the gentleman.

At this time, Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize a member of our freshmen class, someone who has worked very hard and campaigned on this issue of standing up for ordinary people, working men and women.

It is my honor to yield to Representative Keith Ellison.

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Mr. HARE. I thank my colleague for taking time out of a very busy schedule to address this issue. He is an outstanding member of the freshman class.

Mr. Speaker, you are going to hear tonight, by the way, a number of Members talking, because this literally goes from Maine to California, in terms of the Midwest. This isn't just a regional 1-hour we're having this evening.

I would like to introduce at this time a Member from California. He is chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade, and a very active member on the House Trade Working Group, my friend and colleague, Representative Brad Sherman from California.

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Mr. HARE. I thank my friend from California. And let me just say that those who would question your intelligence and your wisdom on this issue of trade do so at their own peril.

Now, if I could, Mr. Speaker, introduce someone I have known for many years prior to coming to the House of Representatives, a person who has stood up for senior citizens, working people in her legislative district here in Congress, and someone who serves as my mentor and a great friend, someone who is never afraid to take on the tough battles, my friend I would like to introduce, Jan Schakowsky.

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Mr. HARE. Thank you, Representative Schakowsky. Thank you for our leadership on the issue of trade.

Before I introduce our next speaker, I want to say one thing our colleague talked about regarding the President being able to enforce labor standards. If you look just in this country, you don't have to go to Peru, you don't have to go to Panama or Korea, in the over 6 years he has been in office, we have only had one major standard by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration by this administration; and they were sued to have to get it. So I am not about to put my eggs in the basket of this administration to enforce any type of workers' rights in other countries.

At this time, Mr. Speaker, I am honored to introduce someone who has taken the leadership role in our class, someone who ran on this issue of standing up for working people, someone who I look up to and I spent a great deal of time talking with about this issue of trade, who is not afraid to speak up on behalf of working people.

It is wonderful to have colleagues like my friend, Betty Sutton, who understands. She comes from an area in Ohio where there has been a loss of jobs. She has been a labor law attorney. She knows what working people have had to go through.

I am honored to be in her class, I am honored to call her my friend, and I am honored to introduce her this evening, Representative Betty Sutton.

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Mr. HARE. Thank you, Ms. Sutton, and I hope you can stick around and we can have a little dialogue in a few minutes.

Mr. Speaker, at this time I would like to introduce someone who is one of the strongest advocates for veterans in this country. He serves as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Health of the Veterans' Affairs Committee. He is a former mill worker who saw his company shut down. He is the cochair of the House Trade Working Group and probably the leading voice in this body to stand up for working men and women. I am honored to have him as my chairman and friend, and I yield to the gentleman from Maine (Mr. Michaud).

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Mr. HARE. I thank my colleague.

I worked in a clothing factory. I cut lining for men's suits. I have three plants left in my district. They are hanging on by a thread. I can't support trade agreements that are going to outsource jobs. I have done town hall meetings since I got elected. I ran on this issue of standing up for ordinary people.

I had a plant in my district, Maytag, with 1,600 workers. Two wage concessions those folks gave up. The company was given $9 million in State funds, and they bolted to Senora, Mexico. Thank you very much, Maytag.

They left people like David Brevard, whose wife has cancer, with very little, if any, health care left. I cannot go back to my district and say to the Dave Brevards, I hope you understand that we have some things, if we let Bush handle some of, if we let the administration handle some of this, we are going to be just fine. Just hang on a little longer.

I can't do that. I have drawn a line in the sand on this issue of trade. It is how I ran, and it is why I am here. I am not going to vote for a fast track bill that is going to take jobs away from this country. I'm not doing it.

Some people would say, here is a protectionist. Yes, if the definition means I'm trying to protect American jobs, then I am. I want the record to state that I'm a card-carrying capitalist. I believe in trade. I just want this thing fair.

I would ask the people and the Speaker tonight, look at the Korean trade agreement where 700,000 automobiles were shipped in here from Korea, and the United States was allowed to ship 2,500 to Korea. That isn't fair trade.

I am not asking them to be equal, I am asking for the playing field to be level. As Congresswoman Sutton said, give us a chance to produce, and we will produce it. But when we don't even have the opportunity to do that, it is never going to work.

I think we need to look at other things. I think we need to invest in something like the bill Ms. Schakowsky spoke about earlier and is going to be introducing. It is about getting companies to stay here, and they get tax credits for helping their employees with their health care and their pensions. Instead, we give tax breaks when they outsource it. I would like to ask both of my colleagues, and maybe I just don't get it. I want you to know that I am not angry that I wasn't invited to the press conference, I am angry because I know what we can do. This is why we have this majority. If we are going to keep this majority, we have to stand up for ordinary people.

Before I turn this over, I want to end with a quote here. One of my political heroes is Hubert Humphrey, and he said in one of the last speeches he gave before he died to the Minnesota AFL-CIO, he said, ``I would rather live 10 years like a tiger than 100 years like a chicken.'' These trade agreements are going to put us back more than 100 years. We are never going to be able to recoup these jobs we have lost. That is why I am here.

I am not going to go back to my district, and I am not going to be lobbied to change my mind unless I am convinced that these trade agreements are in the best interest of our American workers, and that there are provisions built in to help keep jobs.

While I applaud the efforts of the leadership to do some things, I want to make sure that the language is in here. I don't want to go back to Dave Brevard and say, if you can just hang on, we will work on the currency exchange. That is not going to help Mr. Brevard and the people in my district and in the State of Ohio.

Let me say to my colleague, it doesn't matter if you are just from Ohio or just from Illinois, we have lost manufacturing jobs all across this country. I have yet to see, yet to see, a fast track deal that has been in the best interests of the working people of this country. So as long as I am a Member, and I know that is going to be at least another 19 months, and hopefully a little longer, I am going to work very hard to make sure that American workers have somebody.

And I have wonderful people that I am honored to have here this evening, and I would like to enter into a discussion of how are we going to keep manufacturers here.

Does anybody see anything in this bill about how we keep our jobs?

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Mr. HARE. Mr. Speaker, let me just say this, too. These are the very people who fought our wars, defended this country. They just want a decent pension. They'd like some health care, put their kids through school, play by the rules, pay their taxes. They're not the fat cats. These are the thin cats we're talking about

And for the life of me, I don't understand. As you said, we have both chambers, and I believe it's time that both of these chambers stand up because I'm afraid if we don't, we'll go back and our base, those folks who elected us here, are going to say what were you thinking.

I want to just close with this. I know we just have a few minutes remaining here. I want to thank you all for coming this evening, and this is going to be a tough battle. We don't make any bones about it, Mr. Speaker, but look, nothing comes easy for hardworking people, and we're going to work very hard on this. I don't care where you come from, I don't care what State, but I think we have a moral obligation.

I want to close. I did a commencement speech last night at a high school, and I ran into the grandfather of one of the kids that graduated. His father used to work with me in my factory that closed down because of trade, and he's out West now. And I got to thinking, what a shame we couldn't have the opportunity to see each other. He comes back periodically. He's a good, decent man.

I'll close by saying this. This isn't the end on this trade issue. Mr. Speaker, this is only the beginning. We're going to fight, and we're going to win this battle.

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