As Trade Talks Continue, Senators Speak Out on U.S. Trade Policy

As trade talks continue in the Senate, a group of senators dedicated to fair trade spoke on the Senate floor to discuss their priorities related to U.S. trade policy. Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI),Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Edward Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) gave speeches today.

“The talent and tenacity of American workers hasn’t changed—but our leaders’ commitment to them has. And nowhere is that abandonment more clear than the free trade agreements we now approve with little oversight and minimal debate,” Brown said. “We know that trade done right creates prosperity, and as a progressive, I want trade that strengthens the middle class here at home and lifts workers from poverty in America and around the world—not another NAFTA.”

“Pennsylvania workers know that the rules of free trade are rigged against them,” Casey said. “Over the past 20 years, free trade deals have shipped jobs overseas and cut wages for the jobs that remain. We simply cannot accept a system where Pennsylvania’s workers are undercut by deals that allow countries to openly flout international trade laws”

“I have heard from too many constituents who are rightly skeptical of the promises that this new generation of trade agreements offer,” Baldwin said. “After seeing decades of jobs going overseas while the ones that are left pay less, who can blame them? Until it is clear to me that the gains from these agreements will go to the middle class, and not corporations, millionaires, and billionaires, then I will continue to oppose them.”

“A fair trade policy goes straight to the heart of the big challenge of our time: creating broadly-shared prosperity. The proposed TPP trade deal should be judged by whether it creates good-paying American jobs, or destroys those jobs. Too often, trade deals with low-income nations have destroyed jobs and undermined American families. That’s why this trade deal bears close scrutiny and why the secrecy surrounding the draft of the deal must end,” Merkley said.

“We need trade deals that don’t ship workers’ rights overseas along with their jobs,”Markey said. “We need trade deals that don’t cloud our skies with more pollution or plunder our seas with illegal fishing. We need trade deals that don’t outsource justice or jobs overseas. We need free trade, but it must be fair trade.”  

“I’ve been to RI factories and seen holes in the floors where machines had been unbolted and shipped to other countries for foreign workers to perform the same jobs. We can’t afford trade policies that encourage that kind of outsourcing, and I’m proud to stand with my colleagues today to demand fair trade policies for American workers,” Whitehouse said.

“The ‘Investor-State Dispute Settlement’ provision, buried in the fine print of the TPP, would tilt the playing field further in favor of big multinational corporations and undermine US sovereignty,” Warren said. “ISDS allows foreign companies to challenge American laws without ever stepping foot in an American court. This isn’t a partisan issue: conservatives, libertarians and progressives can agree that giving foreign corporations special rights to challenge our laws outside of our legal system is a bad deal.”

“This free trade agreement is another step in a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system,” Sanders said.