PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 3688, UNITED STATES-PERU TRADE PROMOTION AGREEMENT IMPLEMENTATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - November 07, 2007)
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Ms. PELOSI. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding and thank her for her excellent work as a member of the Rules Committee in managing this important rule to the House.
Mr. Speaker, I know that this is a difficult issue for Members to decide upon because it goes right to the heart of family life in America. It's about the job security, the economic security, the health security of America's families. And the issue of trade has been one that has been controversial, and frankly, I have largely been more on the other side of it than I am tonight.
I rise in support of the Peru Trade Agreement, and I want to tell my colleagues why. They will have to make up their own minds. But I want to take the opportunity to talk about it in the context of the last, say, 20 years. That is how long I have been in Congress.
For most of that time, I have fought with a Democratic President and a Republic an President, starting with President Bush 41, Father Bush, and throughout the Clinton administration on the issue of China trade. I saw it clearly as a threat to the economic security of America's working families. I could see the patterns that were developing there. But all along, those powers that be always said, no, this is the enlightened course.
At the time, when we started this debate on China, which was right after the massacre in Tiananmen Square, the trade deficit between the U.S. and China, the trade deficit we suffered, was around $5 billion a year. $5 billion a year. It sounded like all the money in the world to us at the time, $5 billion a year. How much leverage could we have to open China's markets? To stop them violating our intellectual property? To have them free the prisoners arrested in Tiananmen Square? To have them stop proliferating weapons of mass destruction? We fought so much leverage.
But Washington, D.C. was very much influenced by the Government of the People's Republic of China. And so all of the powers that be told us, if only we went down the path that they were recommending, that markets would be open to us, that political reform would come, all of these things, China would stop proliferating weapons of mass destruction to places like Iran and Pakistan, to name a few.
What happened was none of the above. But strictly on the issue of trade, say, 17, 18, years ago, a trade deficit of about $5 billion a year. Stick with us, they told us, and great things would happen in this relationship. Oh, they did. For China. The trade deficit now with China is approximately $5 billion a week. A week. It went from $5 billion a year to $5 billion a week. And all of the economic consequences that go with it, and all of the inferiority of product, threatening the food safety, the medicine safety, the toy safety in our country. That's what the sophisticated people told us that we should do was to go along the course that we have. The violation of intellectual property. That piracy is legendary. Of course, nothing has changed except we are now in about a $250 billion deficit to China.
I bring that up because many of us in this room fought that fight. We invested a lot into it. And we were always cast aside as Luddites and unsophisticated people and Stone Age and didn't understand. But we do understand that the American workers paid a price for that. The markets didn't open to our products. Even with WTO that didn't happen. And, again, the deficit speaks for itself.
So I say from that level of passion and familiarity with the issue and being in the fight for a long time, that when I saw an opportunity for us to have labor and environmental standards as a core part of our trade agreements, it marked a drastic difference from what even a Democratic President was willing to give on that score, even a Democratic President. We couldn't get that in the Clinton administration.
So I want to commend Mr. Rangel and Mr. Levin, the two chairmen, for the excellent work that they did. I tell you the China story just as a background as to how difficult it was before. No matter what the evidence, no matter how clear it was, others saw it differently, and they saw it wrong.
So here we are today trying to make some distinctions, trying to make some distinctions about trade agreements that are better than others. I don't think any of them are perfect on either end. And so my reason for supporting this is, as a leader in the Democratic Party, is I certainly believe that part of the legacy of our great party is the legacy of John F. Kennedy who said that free trade was a part of who we are as a country and that international trade would be good for our economy. But we want not only free trade, we want fair trade.
We are going to be Uncle Sam instead of ``Uncle Sap'' in these trade relationships. It had to be fair. It had to be right for our workers.
As I say, this opportunity came along in a bipartisan way to say that unless labor and environmental standards were part of a trade agreement, it couldn't even be considered. It didn't mean it would be considered, but that was the threshold that all of these agreements had to cross. And then they would be judged on their individual merits in terms of the agreement between our two countries.
Recognizing the fear and apprehension and uncertainty that exists in many families and homes across America because of their jobs going overseas, the businesses closing, their communities having a downturn, can't sell their home, all the consequences that go with that, the chairman put forth legislation that passed the House last week, which I hope that the President
of the United States will sign. I think it is essential, essential, if we are going to accomplish anything on trade, on immigration or anything else, that people know that we share the concerns that they have and that we are doing something about it. So the trade adjustment in terms of training and opportunity and health care and all of those things was very, very important.
That was done in the context of other things to address the needs of America's working families. Hopefully we can pass SCHIP to get 10 million children to have their health insurance, pass legislation to make college more affordable, raise the minimum wage, have an Innovation Agenda that says if we are going to compete in the world, we must innovate. We can't just complain about trade, we must innovate. And that innovation begins in the classroom, and it takes us right back to our college affordability, our initiatives of K-12, early childhood education and the rest.
So I think we have to certainly be concerned about the impact of trade. It is self-evident and it is a challenge for us. But we cannot turn our backs on it. And I absolutely refuse to have the Democratic Party be viewed, and I say this to my Republican colleagues, I know you don't want to be viewed, but I have a responsibility also to my Democratic colleagues, I don't want this party to be viewed as an antitrade party.
So, let's make some distinctions. Take every trade agreement on its own merit. The Peru Free Trade Agreement rises to the level of acceptance. I am not saying it is perfect. It rises to the level of acceptance. Labor and environmental principles are in the core of the bill. Other changes we wanted to see were made by the Parliament in Peru. They passed the laws or they made the changes we said they needed to have.
So if you are ever going to support any trade agreement, I would think this would be the easiest one to do. Other trade agreements have other obstacles that have to be dealt with. I don't think we should shut the door on anything, because that gives nobody any motivation to make any change in what we would like to see as a free flow of goods to and from these countries.
It is frustrating, and I respect everything that has been said by my colleagues in this debate. I think it is all legitimate. Some, like Marcy Kaptur, have been in this fight for a long time. Working families in America have no greater champion to advocate for the best possible outcome for them.
But, again, viewing in the context of we want to have an economy that is fairer, that we have a progressive economic agenda where many more people participate in the economic success of our country, that is why we raised the minimum wage and make college more affordable, et cetera, and that is why we are promoting our Innovation Agenda for energy security and reversing global warming, so we can create many more jobs, so America's farmers can fuel America's energy independence, where we will send our energy dollars to the Midwest and not to the Middle East. This is a bigger picture than the Peru Free Trade Agreement.
The Peru Free Trade Agreement is not a big deal in terms of trade agreements, but it is an important step into saying we can make distinctions about trade relationships that are grossly unfair to the American worker, greatly oppressive to the workers in their own countries and are not making people freer. And to those that are in furtherance of growing our own economy while helping to lift other economies in the world, I think in this case the Peru Free Trade Agreement goes in that direction.
So, that is why, my colleagues, I am supporting this. It may seem to be a departure to some of you from where I have been on other trade agreements. But it is a marked difference, a marked difference from where we were before, whether it was President Bush I, whether it was President Clinton, and where we are now.
Those many who have been on one side or the other of this all say it is an amazing accomplishment to have gotten that done. And for that, whatever the outcome of this vote is, for that I want to once again pay tribute to Chairman Rangel and Chairman Levin, chairman of the subcommittee, for the great leadership and the work they did. I just want you to know why I was supporting this bill.
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