Rep. Lipinski Calls for the Defeat of Fast-Track Bill Which Gives Away Congressional Power on International Trade Agreements

Following today’s release of a bill to grant the president “Trade Promotion Authority” (TPA) – also known as fast-track – Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3) announced that he strongly opposes the legislation because it would give away Congress’ constitutional authority on trade, increasing the likelihood of another trade agreement that destroys American jobs.  The TPA bill would let the president sign and enter into a trade deal before Congress approves its contents and then force Congress to vote within 90 days on a done deal with all amendments forbidden.  Voting, including in the Senate, would be by a simple majority.

“Right now, the President is negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 major countries that comprise 40% of the United States’ goods trade,” said Rep. Lipinski.  “We cannot afford another bad trade agreement that only benefits large corporations while destroying American jobs.  By negotiating in secret and limiting Congress to a simple yes-or-no vote on an agreement, it makes it more likely that the American people get a bad deal.  The Administration says that the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement is the basis for the TPP, and instead of the ‘more exports, more jobs’ we were promised with that agreement, our trade deficit with Korea has ballooned more than 80 percent.” 

The bill introduced today is very similar to previous TPA bills that led to trade agreements resulting in job losses, stagnant wages, and decreasing exports matched by surging imports.  Instead of focusing on leveraging Congressional authority to ensure that the Administration develops the best possible agreement for one of the largest free trade agreements in history, this bill suppresses the elected voices of the people, allowing no amendments to be offered.  Furthermore, the “exit ramp” provisions in today’s bill imposes too high of a threshold for any meaningful Congressional intervention in turning off fast-track procedures.

“The biggest problem with this fast-track bill is that it does not deal with currency manipulation, which is the mechanism that many countries – most notably China – use to make American goods more expensive, thus killing American jobs,” said Congressman Lipinski.

Not only could this agreement cost the nation more high quality middle class jobs, but it could potentially put the safety of Americans at risk as well.  Initial reports on the TPP suggest that it could allow unregulated food products into the country from places such as Malaysia, where contaminants and banned toxic chemicals have been found in seafood.

“It is the responsibility of Congress to ensure that trade agreements create American jobs, raise our wages, and safeguard the consumer and environmental protections on which Americans rely,” Rep. Lipinski said.  “We cannot continue on the course we are on.  Congress must have a robust role in trade negotiations from start to finish and the TPA bill announced today does not meet that test.”