Levin Floor Statement on TPA and TAA

Jun 12, 2015 Issues: Trade

WASHINGTON – Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today delivered the following remarks on the House floor in opposition to Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance:

I have worked in all my years here to expand trade in ways that spread its benefits to the many, not just the few. Charlie Rangel and I led the fight to include strong and enforceable labor and environmental provisions, and to strike the right balance between innovation and access to medicines in the historic May 10th Agreement of 2007.

The trouble with this TPA is that it means no meaningful provisions whatsoever in TPP on currency manipulation, which has destroyed millions of middle class American jobs. And it allows investors to challenge American health and environmental regulations – not through the American legal system, but through unregulated arbitration panels. It is about a TPP going in the wrong direction on access to medicines and in some important ways on environmental protections.

It is about countries like Mexico that deny their workers basic labor rights to gain an unfair competitive advantage over our companies and workers, and Vietnam and Malaysia who stand in clear violation of the May 10 provisions on worker rights, with no plan we know of in TPP to change that – far from a progressive trade agreement.

On this and every other area in the TPA, there are only vague negotiating objectives, left to be determined whether they were met by those who did the negotiating.

Instead of passing this bill, which gives a blank check to the Administration to finish up TPP negotiations where they are now, and leaves Congress with an up-or-down vote at the end, we should be using our leverage to impact the negotiations. This bill doesn’t do that.

We in Congress will be in the back seat, not in the falsely claimed driver's seat. That's what this is all about, not protectionism versus free trade, not reflexive opposition to expanded trade. Quite the opposite. I want a TPP that is worthy of broad bipartisan support.

As to TAA, proponents of TPA have linked the two together into a single bill. TAA should not be a bargaining chip to get a deeply flawed TPA across the finish line, and that’s how this has been set up. This TPA should stand on its own.

Even in its best form, TAA was a modest program. But this TAA bill includes a number of shortcomings compared to the high-water mark of the program – despite the fact that the need is growing as trade is expanding. The truth of the matter is, we need to do far more to train and educate our workers and to invest in our future in order to compete in a global economy.

A NO vote will give us another opportunity to improve TAA and TPA, and to achieve our ultimate goal – which is a strong TPP agreement that can gain broad, bipartisan support.