As Todd mentioned, the TRADE Act was reintroduced in the House of Representatives today by sponsor Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine). This year's version of the legislation is backed by 106 original cosponsors, including nine committee chairs and 45 subcommittee chairs. The cosponsors come from the full range of Democratic caucuses and from around the country. The full list of cosponsors is available here. The Trade Act - 2009 version - has double the number of original cosponsors as the Trade Act introduced last June, showing that support is rapidly growing for a fair-trade alternative to our current failed NAFTA-WTO model.
At today's press conference, although periodically interrupted by a series of floor votes, a number of members of Congress gave impassioned statements about the need for a new direction on trade. Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Reps. Michaud, Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Betty Sutton (D-Ohio), Tom Perriello (D-Va.), and Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) all spoke and took questions. We'll have video clips of some of these statements up by tomorrow.
In the meantime, after the jump, check out our full press release and some additional photos from today's press conference.
TRADE Act Provides Road Map to Rebuild American Consensus for Trade Expansion
Statement of Lori Wallach, Director, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch Division
The Trade Reform Accountability Development and Employment (TRADE) Act delivers on the broad public expectation that Congress and the president will forge a new trade policy that creates jobs, ensures import safety and fixes past damaging agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as they have promised.
That this trade reform agenda is supported by more than 100 House members, including nine full committee chairs, 45 subcommittee chairs and the full range of Democratic caucuses and geography, is a promising sign for the prospect of our country creating a new trade agenda. This legislation, introduced today, translates into action the specific commitments for trade reform made by many members of Congress over the past two election cycles and by President Obama during his campaign.
The bill's provisions regarding what must and must not be in American trade agreements will look very familiar to campaign junkies, as they capture the reforms promised in the 2008 Democratic platform and the campaign commitments made by President Obama and the 71 House and Senate members elected in 2006 and 2008 who replaced those who had voted for NAFTA and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
By moving Congress and the public beyond the rut of repeated fights against more-of-the-same trade pacts, the TRADE Act can help avoid the divisiveness and political fallout that such fights invariably bring.
This legislation offers the White House a path around an ocean of political quicksand because it is a road map for trade expansion that Democrats could support with fixes for the key conflicts between the current NAFTA-style trade pacts and the Democrats' core agenda.
The premise of the TRADE Act is that America's trade agenda must be brought into conformity with America's domestic agenda of good jobs, a clean environment, safe food, quality and affordable medicines, and essential services. By removing provisions that limit imported food and product safety and financial service regulation, provide foreign investors with rights to attack domestic environmental and health laws, and incentivize the offshoring of jobs to low-wage countries - and adding effective labor, environmental, health and safety standards to provide the floor of decency necessary to ensuring trade agreements benefit more people - the road map provided by the TRADE Act would lead to trade agreements that could enjoy broad public support.
Additional press conference images (click for larger versions):
Above: House Rules Committee Chairwoman Slaughter giving the opening statement.
Above: Rep. Sutton giving her statement.
Above: Rep. Perriello giving his statement.
Above: Rep. DeLauro answering a reporter's question.
Above: Rep. Tonko, standing, leaving for a floor vote after delivering his statement.
Video and more photos will be available tomorrow. Stay tuned...