WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 23, 2015) – Today, as the House Ways and Means Committee considers Fast Track Trade authority and several new international trade agreements, national labor and environmental leaders offered another view of what Fast Track would mean for the American people, urging committee members and Congress to vote no on granting Fast Track Trade authority.
“Fast tracking flawed trade agreements should not be an act of Congress,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard. “We need a new approach to trade, not more of the same failed policies so damaging to American workers and their communities.”
On Tuesday in the Senate, the Finance Committee held a hearing on Fast Track Trade authority. Under Fast Track, Congress gives up its traditional power to amend bad trade deals and it cannot send the agreement back to the executive branch with instructions for improvement.
“Fast track would rush dangerous trade deals through Congress—trade deals that would hurt our access to clean air, clean water, and undermine years of work to address climate disruption,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “We call on members of Congress to clean up toxic trade—and they should start by rejecting fast track.”
“The two pending trade agreements that the U.S. is negotiating could have enormous impacts on our bedrock environmental laws and public health protections. That is why we oppose this ‘fast track’ bill. It would give a blank check with no way to ensure that trade agreements it will allow to become law don’t undercut our protections or allow new challenges to them. Our country has worked for decades—and is still working—to build up and enforce basic environmental and public health protections. Now is not the time to undercut these important protections,” said Peter Lehner, Executive Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would include 12 countries, about 40 percent of the world economy and have a significant impact on the global and domestic economy for many years to come.
“Fast Track repeats all the mistakes of our previous failed trade policies,” said Communications Workers of America (CWA) Senior Director George Kohl. “We need a new trade policy that benefits everyone. We need a new trade policy that creates a net increase in U.S. jobs and investment while expanding workers’ rights here and abroad. New trade agreements need to lift up regulatory standards and our overall quality of life, not undercut them.”
“The BlueGreen Alliance supports fair, transparent trade that doesn’t engage the U.S. in a race to the bottom,” said BlueGreen Alliance Executive Director Kim Glas. “Fast Track is the opposite of that. That’s why it is wrong for our workers, economy and environment.”
Listen to the press call below.