Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) sent out some sharply worded words on the "deal."
According to a Congress Now story:
Dorgan said he'll push for three benchmarks to measure the success of the trade agreements:Net creation of jobs, Net improvement of wages, and Significant increases in foreign market access.
If the benchmarks are not met within five years, Congress would vote on a privileged joint resolution directing the president to terminate the trade deal.
"There are no guarantees here at all," Dorgan said. "Those that talk about being able to run this through the Congress like a hot knife through butter, I'm sorry that's not the way it's going to be. We're going to push and insist on a new approach, a new strategy that supports American workers and supports American standards."
You can read Brown's release after the jump.
OFFICE OF U.S. SENATOR SHERROD BROWN
Thursday, May 17, 2007
DEM. SENATORS WARY OF NEW TRADE DEAL
Brown critical of potential side deals, Senators call for accountability
Washington, DC – At a Capitol Hill news conference today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said the inclusion of labor and environmental standards in a new trade policy proposal was an historic step, but expressed deep concerns over emerging details.
Joined by Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Bob Casey (D-PA), Brown said enforceability questions and potential side deals cast a shadow over the outline negotiated by Congressional leadership and the White House.
“Voters in Ohio, and across the country, sent a message loud and clear in November that they want a new direction for U.S. trade policy,” Brown said. “They forced the administration to publicly acknowledge that trade matters to working men and women in this country. The demand was for real change, not symbolic gestures.”
While the text of pending trade agreements has not yet been made public, an outline of the trade deal released late last week drew criticism from labor and small business groups. However, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce praised the deal saying he had been assured by the White House that the standards would not be strictly enforced.
“If the plan is to offer side deals, then nothing new is on the table except a $5 Rolex,” said Brown. “The key here is enforceability. This administration has an abysmal record enforcing labor and environmental laws in our own country. We certainly cannot count on it to protect our interests abroad. It looks like the Jordan agreement all over again.”
Enacted in 2000, the Jordan Free Trade Agreement received initial support from fair traders because of the inclusion of labor and environmental standards.
In 2001, former USTR Robert Zoellick sent a letter to Jordan expressing little desire to enforce the standards. Despite reports of rampant human trafficking and slave labor conditions in Jordan, the White House has not filed any complaints.
“Seven years later Jordan is on its way to becoming the sweatshop capital of the Middle East because the administration abdicated its duty to enforce standards,” Brown said. “The fact is the new proposal does not appear to address fundamental problems in our trade policy.”
The Senators also discussed creating benchmarks for future trade deals to ensure that these deals live up to their promises. “If history is any guide, we can’t trust the rhetoric around these trade deals, we need to measure the results and act accordingly,” Brown said.