Rep. Lipinski Introduces Bill to Give Congress Expanded Power to Cancel Trade Agreements Hurting American Workers (April 21, 2015)

Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) has introduced the Truth, Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Trade Act to protect American workers being harmed by foreign trade agreements.  Lipinski’s bill requires the Executive Branch to review and report on the operation of existing trade agreements to determine whether American jobs and exports are being negatively impacted.  If negative impact is found, any Member of Congress would have the right to submit a “termination bill,” which would have expedited consideration and allow for the cancellation of some or all of the trade agreement causing damage.  After passage of a termination bill, any renegotiated agreement would be barred from being considered under Trade Promotion Authority (the fast-track process) and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) would be required to negotiate severable trade agreements moving forward so as to allow for the cancellation of specific provisions without necessarily cancelling entire agreements.

“Whenever the U.S. negotiates a new foreign trade agreement, the American people are promised greater job creation and increased exports, but the reality usually winds up being the opposite,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “Since NAFTA was signed, Illinois alone has lost close to 300,000 manufacturing jobs.  These were quality jobs with high wages and good benefits that supported middle class families.  The Truth, Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Trade Act gives Congress a new way to protect American workers from the broken promises of bad trade deals.  The bill requires the compilation of evidence demonstrating the real impact of trade agreements, and when the impact is bad, Congress will have an efficient way to cancel some or all of the deal that created the harm.  Then the agreement can be renegotiated in a way that is fair to American workers. 

“President Obama is currently negotiating two large trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which encompasses 12 countries that comprise 40% of America’s trade.  He has requested that Congress grant him Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) – also known as fast-track authority – so that Congress would only have an up-or-down vote on any agreement with no amendments allowed.  I oppose TPA because it would be harmful to the American people – especially the middle class – if Congress gave up its authority when it comes to new free trade agreements, considering how damaging many of these deals have been to American workers over the past two decades.” 

The Department of Commerce recently released its raw annual trade data, showing further economic damage from trade agreements negotiated with currency manipulators under fast-track procedures. The overall trade deficit increased 6% to $505 billion and the goods trade deficit increased 5% to $736 million. U.S. exports to South Korea are lower than they were before the implementation of the United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement and the trade deficit has increased 20% to $25 billion. 

“The President’s goal of doubling exports by the end of 2014 has not succeeded and he is continuing down the same path by pushing to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership with the same basic framework as Korea and other failed agreements,” Rep. Lipinski said.  “Going forward, we need to focus on negotiating agreements that raise standards and create jobs.  But we also need to look at past trade agreements and fix those that are hurting American workers.  The Truth, Transparency, Accountability, and Fairness in Trade Act will do that and help level the playing field, restoring the high-standard manufacturing climate that American employers and their workers have proven time and time again for generations that they thrive in.”