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Apr 16, 2015
Press Release
Lawmaker Calls it the Same Raw Deal for American Workers

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today responded to the introduction of so-called “fast track” legislation that would give President Obama the authority to push through major trade deals with little to no input from Congress. The bill was introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

When a free trade agreement is submitted under fast track procedures Congress must pass it within 90 days with an up or down vote, no amendments, and limited debate. It would not be subject to normal congressional committee review and markup. It would forbid all amendments and permit only 20 hours of debate. 

 “Supporters of this bill will tell you it’s better than fast track deals of the past with protections for workers and the environment—don’t take the bait,” said DeFazio.  “It reinforces the same failed trade policies of the last 20 years that have earned multi-national corporations record profits and shipped good paying American jobs overseas.  Congress must not be used as a doormat to pass bad trade deals. It’s the same raw deal for American workers and the environment.”

The Obama administration is asking Congress for fast track authority in order to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the largest trade agreement in history involving 12 countries that control 40 percent of the global economy. TPP has 29 chapters covering issues such as pharmaceutical patents, copyright law, financial regulation, environmental policy, government procurement, food safety and more. 

“Without the proper protections, trade deals can give foreign governments or multinational corporations a means to circumvent U.S. laws.  As Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I want to be sure we preserve strong Buy America policies in federal and local transportation projects to support American jobs and workers and ensure that policies like Buy America are not undermined in any future free trade agreement.”

Fast track authority is not necessary to pass trade agreements. Despite not having fast track for six of his eight years in office, President Clinton still successfully implemented more than a hundred trade agreements.