DeFazio Blasts House Bill that Overturns Country of Origin Labeling Law and Consumer Rights
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) today criticized H.R. 2393, legislation to repeal mandatory country of origin labeling requirements for meat products as a disturbing measure that undermines the rights and health of the American people.
The bill was introduced as a response to a ruling from the World Trade Organization that the labeling requirement constitutes an unfair barrier to trade for meat producers in Canada and Mexico. DeFazio pointed to the decision as a harbinger of the destructive policies in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal currently being negotiated by the Obama administration. In fact, the TPP gives countries and multinational corporations stronger rights than those granted by the WTO to challenge U.S. environmental, safety and consumer laws.
“Just two weeks ago, President Obama was in Oregon and promised that no trade agreement would require the U.S. to change our laws,” said DeFazio. “He even said that critics like myself who disagree with him, were just ‘making stuff up.’ But yesterday the WTO declared that our pro-consumer Country of Origin Labeling requirement is a barrier to trade. And today Congress is preparing to overturn an important consumer law. This isn’t make-believe. It’s real and it’s disturbing.”
DeFazio, top Democrat on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee also pointed to U.S. safety laws that were set aside in January, pursuant to North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to allow Mexican trucks to have access to U.S. highways without evidence that these trucks are safe.
“I fought for years to prevent dangerous Mexican trucks from barreling down U.S. highways,” continued DeFazio. “I successfully delayed access but the Mexicans threatened punitive tariffs on products targeting my home state of Oregon and the home states of other opponents in order to send the message that if the U.S. didn’t play by their rules there would be consequences. Dangerous Mexican trucks were granted access to our roads in January, threatening the safety of Americans daily. It’s time for this administration to admit that U.S. trade policies undermine our domestic regulations and fight to protect the American people, rather than continue to allow other countries and corporate interests to run roughshod over our laws.”
Rep. DeFazio plans to vote against H.R. 2393 and Fast Track trading authority for the Obama administration when the bills come to the floor.