Foreign Policy Freelancing
China case illustrates food safety issues in a globalized economy

Oregon Sen. Smith locks out constituents concerned over job losses

On Monday, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.)'s Pendleton office was expecting a visit from a group of constituents wanting to voice their opposition to the "fast track" process. These citizens' level of concern, as in many districts across the United States, was due to the increasing number of displaced Oregonian jobs lost in the wake of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), including their own. When they arrived, however, they were met with a locked door rather than an open ear. The East Oregonian reported:

...people showed up to urge Smith to oppose the "Fast Track" process, also called the Trade Promotion Authority, that gives the president the authority to negotiate and write trade agreements that Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster.

Jason Hennings was one of those who claimed free trade hurt him and his family. He worked at Simplot in Hermiston for 17 years before the company moved its food processing business out of the country in the wake of the North American Free Trade Agreement. He said there are some things about fast tracking trade agreements Smith should understand..."Fast Track is bad policy. It doesn't allow for a real democratic process."

Noting the limited floor time trade legislation is allowed under this process (just one of many unique restrictions on Congress' authority under fast track), Hennings continued, saying: "if senators and representatives were allowed to scrutinize these kinds of free trade agreements, they may not be so inclined to approve them."

Smith has a record of voting for NAFTA-style trade agreements such as the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and the more recent Oman FTA.

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