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United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act

Location: Washington, DC



Ms. SUTTON. Mr. Speaker, just over 11 months ago I arrived in these hallowed Halls as a Congresswoman representing the people of Ohio's 13th Congressional district.

During my campaign, and now as a Member of Congress, I have spoken with workers and their families in Akron and Lorain and other communities throughout northeast Ohio. And let me tell you about these proud, hardworking people who I am so honored to represent. All they really want is a government that works with them, not against them. They want a good job that will allow them to care for their families, put food on the table, and help them send their children to college.

And one of the many things that they understand very clearly is that our global trading system is broken, and our workers, and our businesses, our farmers, and our communities are being left at a devastating disadvantage.

In Ohio, we have lost over 200,000 manufacturing jobs since 2001, and that means a lot of families are suffering. And last November, my constituents and the American people across this country, they cast their ballots seeking a new direction on trade. And that's why it is so important that this Congress understand the connection between what we do here today and the impact that will have not only on people's livelihoods, but on their beliefs and on their ideas about what we stand for.

Mr. Speaker, people seldom look very hard for things they don't want to find. But Members of this esteemed body should not be so blinded by their yearning to support trade to not recognize the realities of its harmful effects on our families and communities.

Mr. Speaker, it may be easy to say that our current trade policies are working when you've not talked to families in Akron, looked into the eyes of their children, or walked down the streets in Lorain.

It may be easy to think that our broken system is benefiting our Nation's businesses when you ignore the voices of small businesses in Barberton and Elyria. And it may be easy to think we should continue down a crumbling path when you drown out the concerns of workers in Brunswick and Strongsville and Cuyahoga Falls.

But I learned, as we all do when we're young, that if something is broken, you fix it. You really fix it. If something no longer works, develop a new product that fits your needs and allows you to move forward. That's what we need to do with our trade policies. But, unfortunately, that's not what is happening here.

Mr. Speaker, the same promises that have been used over and over and over to justify passage of free trade agreement after free trade agreement are being heard here again tonight. Some are pleading that this is an historic breakthrough, and oh, how I wish that that were so. But it is not. And saying it is does not make it so.

It's clear that our current trade policies are not working, despite the same past promises made. We see this in the reality of a nearly $1 trillion trade deficit, tainted imported food and products, currency manipulation, illegal subsidies, offshore jobs, and devastated families and communities.

Mr. Speaker, we could develop a new model that addresses these issues and puts American workers and businesses in a position to compete on a level playing field and truly raises the standard of living for those in other nations, but, unfortunately, the Peru FTA fails to do this. It locks in problems with food safety, procurement, Social Security privatization, among others. And most importantly, we know very clearly it will not be enforced.

Just look at one of the agreement's strongest supporters, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They were very encouraged that the labor provisions in the bill could not be read to ``require compliance.'' And today, in The Washington Post, we learned from the Columbia law professor, Mark Barenberg, that the Peru FTA actually imposes lighter sanctions for labor standard violations than current trade law requires. Now, proponents will say that's not true. But that's what Columbia Law Professor Mark Barenberg says. The Peru FTA actually imposes lighter sanctions for labor standard violations than current trade law requires.

So, Mr. Speaker, what are we going to do today for my constituents and those who elected us to move in a new direction on trade?

What will be the true legacy of this historic Congress? Will it be our legacy to pass more harmful trade policies and trade agreements like the one before us? Or will it be a different course, one of fairness, one of justice, one that will allow our workers and business a truly fair playing field?

I urge a ``no'' vote on the agreement.


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