Congressman Garamendi Stands Up for American Workers with “No” Vote on Fast Track Trade Bill, the Precursor to TPP and More Trade Deals
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) voted against H.R. 1314, the ‘Fast Track’ Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill that sets the stage for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and future trade deals. H.R. 1314 grants six years of authority for a President to negotiate trade deals and present them to Congress for an ‘up-or-down vote’ – all without any meaningful input from the people’s elected representatives in Congress.
This bill narrowly passed the House of Representatives by a 219-211 vote, but because a bipartisan coalition in the House overwhelmingly rejected an interconnected bill by a 136-300 vote, the TPA cannot be sent to the President at this time. Therefore, the fate of Fast Track is unclear.
“Fast Track trade bills remove Congress’s constitutional responsibility and opportunity to shape trade agreements on behalf of our districts. I voted ‘no’, because I will not yield my obligation to advocate on behalf of the needs of my constituents,” said Congressman Garamendi. “Furthermore, as written, this Fast Track bill will last through the term of the next President.”
Garamendi continued, “As currently written, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will put shackles on lawmakers as we pursue Buy America policies to create good manufacturing jobs here at home. The TPP allows currency manipulation to continue unfettered and disadvantages key California agricultural products. While the TPP as envisioned has nice-sounding labor and environmental goals, there is absolutely no enforcement capability. With new investor-state relations requirements, these goals amount to window dressing as wages, benefits, and environmental protection will continue to be undercut, like with previous ‘free’ trade deals.”
If enacted, TPP would put American workers at a disadvantage compared to nations like Vietnam with far weaker labor and environmental standards and a minimum monthly salary of only $101. It also undermines America’s ability to enact Buy America legislation even for investments made with taxpayer dollars.
“With today’s ambiguous vote, we can still stop Fast Track and ultimately the Trans Pacific Partnership, but we need hardworking Americans to stand up in opposition to the TPP and in support of fair trade agreements that empower workers and respect our precious natural resources,” Garamendi concluded.
On Wednesday, Congressman Garamendi appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal to discuss TPA/TPP at length. Video and a transcript of that interview is available here.
Since the day he entered Congress, Congressman Garamendi has worked to advance Buy America/Make It In America policies. He believes that your tax dollars must be spent on American-made equipment, goods, and services – not on imported steel as happened with the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge. This domestic content policy is similar to policies pursued by most of our nation’s economic competitors. He will resolutely oppose any trade deal that undermines this important work.