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Public Statements

Extending Certain Trade Programs

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McDERMOTT. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill, which extends expiring provisions of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, adds the country of South Sudan to a list of countries eligible for trade preferences, implements technical fixes for the CAFTA agreement, and renews the Burma sanctions.

The expiring third-country fabric provision is the cornerstone of AGOA and one of the most valuable parts of our trading relationship with Africa. Tens of thousands of workers and hundreds of companies depend on this provision.

It is critical that we extend it now before it expires next month. We have delayed this extension for a year, and this unnecessary delay has cost thousands of jobs and millions in investment. It has hurt progress in Africa. We could have avoided these senseless job losses here and in Africa.

I introduced this legislation to extend third-country fabric and add South Sudan over a year ago. The delay was just politics. We are, unfortunately, in an era when commonsense things can't get done. As usual, the political games accomplished nothing.

AGOA itself was truly bipartisan. We all worked together to compromise it and get a good thing done. That was a different era. At least today's vote will reflect some of the bipartisanship that has been a hallmark of AGOA from the start.

The bill also adds South Sudan to the list of AGOA-eligible countries. South Sudan deserves every opportunity and
every vote of confidence we can muster.
This package also contains important technical fixes for CAFTA textiles--that's from Central America--the fixes that businesses and workers have been waiting for since February of last year.

I also am pleased that we are renewing our evolving policy on Burma. Burma has made important steps in the last 18 months, but there's still a long way to go.

I'm particularly pleased with the investment transparency measures that the State Department has put forward. They are innovative, common sense, and exactly what investors and the American public need and expect.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. McDERMOTT. I yield myself the balance of my time.

Mr. Speaker, many people played a part in all of this. Nothing in Congress ever gets done by one person. Nothing ever gets done by one side or the other, and the good things that happen here always happen on a bipartisan basis. I'm sorry Ed Royce left, because Ed Royce and I worked together.

One day, he called me. He said, JIM, I'm going out to Africa to look at some of the places in which the AGOA Act is working. Will you go with me?

I said, Why?

Well, he said, I need a Democrat on the trip.

That kind of relationship is rare around here, unfortunately, and I think that people need to recognize that it is still going on--that this place runs on trust.

Very early on in this session, I said to Dave Camp, When are you going to bring up the AGOA Act?

He said, It's going to come up.

I've asked him many times since, and he has said it's going to come up. So I told all of my African friends, It's going to come up because Dave Camp said it's going to come up.

I'm really pleased to acknowledge that he kept his word, because what this place runs on is trust. If you don't trust somebody in here, then you don't do business with him. If you trust him, even if it takes him a long time and you have to poke him a bunch of times, you know that ultimately he's going to do what he said he was going to do. I want to acknowledge Chairman Camp for that because I think it is reflective of what can make it possible for us to do tax reform in this House.

It is something that took a long time the last time they did it, but it was built on the trust between Reagan and Rostenkowski and Tip O'Neill. It took a bit of time, but it will happen again if we learn to act on the behalf of the American people.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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