Michigan Democrats urge caution on fast track of new so-called “free” trade deals

LANSING—Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich (D-Flint), Senator Steve Bieda (D-Warren), state Representatives Derek Miller (D-Warren) and Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) joined Congressman Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township) today to discuss new trade deals currently being negotiated with foreign nations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which if enacted without strong currency and consumer protection provisions could mean the loss of thousands of good-paying Michigan jobs.

Accompanying Congressman Kildee’s visit to address a joint Caucus of the Michigan House and Senate Democrats, Bieda will introduce a Senate resolution urging Congress to allow for greater transparency in trade negotiations by not fast-tracking TPP. Fast track approval of the deal would mean that Congress is not allowed to amend or improve the deal, only vote yes or no on the agreement that is currently being negotiated in secret between the U.S. and 11 Pacific-Rim countries.

“How is Congress supposed to vote on a new trade deal that’s currently being negotiated in secret and that we haven’t even seen yet?” Congressman Kildee said. “Nothing I’ve seen so far leads me to believe this new TPP trade deal is any different from the North American Free Trade Agreement. Secret trade policies like TPP are not the right course for Michigan and I will continue to oppose them being fast-tracked in Congress. One only has to look back to the last trade agreement, NAFTA, to see that bad deals don’t help our workers – instead they do the opposite, hurting our country’s competitiveness and contributing to a race to the bottom when it comes to wages and exports.”

“Michigan workers are a resource as valuable as the products they make, and we have to make sure we’re weighing the needs of both,” said Senator Bieda. “Our auto industry and other manufacturers have rebounded significantly, but another free trade agreement can damage much of that work. Even as we discuss international trade, we need to put Michigan and American workers first and ensure any agreement takes their needs into account.”

Earlier this year, it was announced that Speaker of the House John Boehner appointed Congressman Kildee to serve on the President’s Export Council, the principal advisory committee on international trade. Congressman Kildee has been an outspoken advocate against fast-tracking TPP in Congress.

“Michigan workers deserve better than another trade agreement that puts their jobs and families at risk,” said Representative Miller, sponsor of House Resolution 30 urging Congress to oppose fast-tracking the trade agreement. “This trade agreement deserves close consideration by Congress, so that the recent job gains Michigan has made aren’t undercut by the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

“As a union member, I am alarmed that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement could be rushed through Congress without careful consideration and input,” said Representative Yanez. “I join my Democratic colleagues in the Michigan Legislature and Congressman Kildee and call on Congress to slow this trade agreement down so that it can be negotiated to benefit, instead of harm, our workers.”

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